A lot of us are making goals for the new year, and it turns out there’s some science to whether you’ll be successful in meeting yours. (As a psychology major, I wasn’t surprised. There’s a study for everything.)
The best route to success? Focus on what you’re going to do, not what you want to stop doing. In fact, it appears that worrying to much about not continuing a bad habit can make it even worse!
Negation if-then plans involve spelling out the actions you won’t be taking in the future. With these plans, if you have a habit you want to break, you simply plan not to engage in that habit. (“If I am at the mall, then I won’t buy anything.”) This is, in a sense, the most straightforward and head-on way of addressing a bad habit, and probably the one we most often end up using.
All three types of if-then plans were put to the test, with surprising and consistent results. The researchers found that negation if-then plans were not only far less effective compared to other plans, but that they sometimes resulted in a rebound effect, leading people to do more of the forbidden behavior than before.
Do you have a strategy for making sure you complete your new year’s goals? Share!