By James, Admin Staff
We all have goals and aspirations for the future. For instance, last month people around the world rang in the New Year with resolutions to improve something in their lives. Whether it was to get in better shape, reach out to old friends, or simply strive to be a better person, the intent was to change a behavior.
Well here we are in February and I can tell you from personal experience, it’s easier said than done! The weather in most parts of the US is miserable this time of year. It’s ironic that optimism is quickly met with retrenchment; I find it easier to get comfortable by watching the latest Oscar nominated film than to go for a run, order takeout rather than finding a fresh and healthy alternative.
A few years ago, I learned about a psychological phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik Effect. Simply put, it postulates that uncompleted tasks tend to be remembered longer in our short-term memory whereas tasks that we avoid, such as not abiding by our New Year’s resolution, have a negative effect on our long-term memory. What does all this argot mean?
By not going for a run on let’s say Monday, I will regret that decision for about a day. As a result, I will tend to remember more about the circumstances of why I didn’t act (i.e. bad weather, daily stress, etc.) Had I gone for a run, the details surrounding that decision would be more vague; I acted therefore the task is complete.
This leads me back to why I chose to title this blog Maintenance. Simply by doing, we create positive feedback that reinforces the behavior. Eating healthy or exercising at least once a week instead of thinking about eating healthy or exercising causes one to reduce stress and anxiety –key inhibitors of maintaining a plan or routine. So next time when I find myself thinking that I should have, I will remind myself that even if I give it a try, that’s better than not having attempted it at all.