The New Year New Me Plight: 6 Tips To Avoid False Hope Syndrome

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Despite repeated failure at attempts to change certain negative behaviour it’s difficult to understand why so many individuals persist particularly at the beginning of each year (without properly thinking and planning things through). This cycle has been described as the “false hope syndrome”, which basically means setting yourself up to fail due to unrealistic expectations about the time frame of the change required, the amount of effort needed to accomplish it, and the consequences of self-change attempts. So the question at hand is this, what will you do differently this coming year?

We accept that people will generally stop doing something that is not rewarding for them. Deferred hope makes us all weary; hence the false hope syndrome. Once we perceive that we are failing to reach the goals we have set, we lose interest. A loss of confidence makes it easy for us to give up and bring us back to the beginning, perhaps waiting for another new year’s resolution situation, to again make promises to ourselves that this time is finally that time.

How can we avoid falling foul of the false hope syndrome? Here are 6 tips to help you in achieving the change towards a healthier, fitter you this coming year:

  1. Avoid the “all or nothing” approach, so that if you fail to meet a goal or target, you don’t just give up. Take the next few weeks to start very small so that you can build up into the hysteria that exists in January.
  2. Dress in your workout gear at every opportunity, even when going to your local supermarket. There is a psychological link between dressing and feeling like a fitness success. “Enclothed cognition,” suggests that the clothing a person wears can trigger mental changes that positively affect their choices. Success equals small daily choices in the right direction.
  3. Track your workouts. Exercise is key to maintaining fitness goals, and one of the best ways to stay on track is to keep a fitness log. It can be as simple as marking an “X” on a calendar on days you exercise — it’s motivating to see a chain of Xs that you won’t want to break.
  4. Stay focused on being healthy and looking and feeling great rather than being thin. Many people become more successful at long term weight loss when their motivation changes from wanting to be thinner to wanting to be healthier. Try starting with the mind-set to think about selecting foods that will help you acquire a lean healthier physique rather than worrying about foods that will affect your body’s weight on the scales.
  5. Re-evaluate on a weekly basis. Ask yourself “Am I setting myself up for success?” Remember to think in terms of small, measurable, doable changes. Keep reminding yourself of this. If you make a resolution to completely upend your life overnight, you are likely setting yourself up for failure, and that’s self-destructive. Your resolution should be something that ultimately makes you happier, not yet another thing that makes you feel bad about yourself. Small changes can lead to major transformations in the long run.
  6. Have Accountability. Your odds of success increase when you include the support of friends, family or even a Personal Trainer in your new, positive lifestyle choices. Having an accountability partner is a great way to help you stick to your resolutions. They can also re-enforce to you how far you have come and how well you are doing, during times when you need an extra boost in confidence.
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