Sunday, January 1, 2012

Small Steps to Improvement

Ok, I've never been big in New Year's resolutions and 2012 is no exception. It seems so cliche' to commit to making major changes to your life based on the calendar. A new year does of course provide an appropriate time for reflection and looking ahead, but it seems to be a hollow reason to resolve to make wholesale changes, especially when most resolutions are too generic (be a better parent, be more organized) or are overly burdensome (lose 50 pounds, work-out every day, and read a book a week).

We've been doing some research at work on why we do some of the things we do (and why we don't do some of the things we should do), especially when it comes to our health. We have spent a lot of time on behavioral economics, gamification, competitions, and individual motivators. So in the spirit of a new year and making small, sustainable improvements to our health behaviors, we have created a group challenge where we each have set small, individual goals for January in areas of our personal health.

My goal is to eat 2 or more servings of fruits and/or vegetables 5 times a week. I will admit - I could go the rest of my life and not eat another fruit or vegetable. I've never liked them and it feels like a chore almost every time I eat them. So while adding 2 more servings is not huge, it is a sizable step for me but it will not get me to the recommended daily amounts.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this is how our group dynamic impacts our individual goals. I found it interesting that for most of the commitments people made, they felt confident that they could meet their goal because they usually succeeded when they put their minds to it. It's interesting because people are trying to address habits they haven't been able to affect, but are confident that they will be successful. I am that way also, but believe the group competition will be important for me (I don't like to lose and I'm cheap - we do have lunch riding on the outcome).

I'll keep you posted on my progress and more importantly, how trying to make incremental improvements in a group setting impacts our success.


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