In Tracy Cutchlow’s article “How to Trick Yourself into Exercising” she talks about the difficulty of sticking to your new years resolutions. Year after year peoplecreate resolutionsthat involve things such as consistent exercise, but they struggle to actually act on their resolution. So Tracy spoke with a psychologist about possible techniques that would enable her to “trick herself into exercising.” The psychologist’s technique involved a relatively simple three step procedure. The first step is to create a “ridiculously realistic goal.” For example, rather than say you are going to exercise everyday, start off with three days a week. The next step involves accountability. This could mean writing notes in your phone or putting a calendar up on the fridge to remind you about your resolution and to help you keep track of your progress. The final, and most important step, is to create a “painful consequence.” For Tracy this meant that if she ever failed to maintain her three days a week resolution, she would have to give $500 dollars to an organization that she “hates” (Comcast). The purpose of the painful consequence is to essentially make breaking your resolution so unappealing that it eventually becomes a rule. In his book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, author Paul Tough describes thegeneral science behind how creating rules for yourself is an effective method for maintaining discipline. He writes, “When you’re making rules for yourself, you’re enlisting the prefrontal cortex as your partner against the more reflexive parts of your brain. … Rules are a metacognitive substitute for willpower. By making yourself a rule (“I never eat fried dumplings”), you can sidestep the painful internal conflict between your desire for fried foods and your willful determination to resist them.” So Tracy Cutchlow’s article provides a means through which we can create rules for ourselves and in turn, successfully adhere to our resolutions.
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