The year 2019 will soon be upon us. As happens every new year, gyms will get temporarily more crowded, cigarette sales will drop a bit, some bars will temporarily sell a little more tonic water and a little less alcohol, and more people will start eating primarily plant-based diets, at least for a little while. And some people will work at being more thoughtful to their families and friends.

I’m certain that you recognize that these behaviors result from New Years resolutions. I’m certain that you also know that many of these resolutions won’t last more than a few days or a few weeks before becoming victims of either inadequate motivation or inadequate self-discipline. Surprisingly, however, some resolutions last and become permanent behavior changes.

Why do some people overcome the odds and make positive behaviors? I’m certain that it’s a complex phenomenon, with each case being different, which makes it hard to generalize – but I’m going to do it anyway.

In my work with patients who want to change self-defeating behaviors, I’ve found that one of the key variables between those who succeed and those who don’t is the nature of their support system. If friends and family members expect failure, because they either assume that everyone fails at keeping resolutions or because they are actually uncomfortable about another person successful changing a behavior that they haven’t been able to change, it generally leads to failure. On the other hand, when members of a support system encourage and support positive change, it doesn’t guarantee success but it definitely changes the odds. Encouragement tilts the odds in favor of success.

Not just at the beginning of the year, but throughout the year, we are likely to come across friends or family members who are trying to change a habit or improve their lives in some way. That is not a time to stay neutral and uninvolved. Encouragement is a powerful tool that can lead us to help others to make significant improvements in their lives. And don’t forget about yourself. When you are dealing with a challenge and thinking about giving up, don’t forget about the power of encouragement – and become a cheerleader for yourself.

Ron Kaiser, Ph.D. Psychologist, Educator, Author, Podcaster

Ron Kaiser, Ph.D., is a positive health psychologist, coach, author, podcaster, educator, consultant, and speaker. He has been in practice for more than five decades, including 25 years as Director of Psychology at the world-famous Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University. As an innovative thought leader in the field, he has developed the concepts of THE MENTAL HEALTH GYM, GOAL-ACHIEVING PSYCHOTHERAPY (GAP), THE TYPE P PERSONALITY, and REJUVENAGING®.

Tagged: ,