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Happiness Tip: Double Down on Your Resolutions

Double down for one more week and reap the benefits.

This week is an important one for people who made New Year’s resolutions (I hope that’s you)! If you can keep your resolution for the rest of January, you’ll be much more likely to end the year having kept it, too.

Here are two tips for hanging in there if you are starting to falter:

1.     Remember that there is a world of difference between lapse and relapse.  A lapse is a small slip in behavior, and nearly everyone has them. Most people slip here and there a lot in January. A relapse is a full fall: You give up, you go back to your pre-resolution behavior.

If you’ve had a few slips, ask yourself why. What can you learn from your mistakes? Were you on vacation? (That’s always hard.) Do you not have a specific enough plan for how to fulfill your resolution? What temptation or situation should you avoid in the future? Remember: Lapses are to be expected. They are a part of the process. Don’t freak out or give up if you have a bad day here or there.

2.     Beware the “what the hell effect.” It’s really important not to let a temporary lapse become something bigger than it is. Say you’ve sworn off sugar, but one morning you eat a pie for breakfast. You’re at risk for what researchers formally call the Abstinence Violation Effect (AVE), and jokingly call the “what the hell effect.” If you’ve already blown your diet today, why not go hog wild? What the hell–you can begin again tomorrow, right?

Wrong. The more damage you do during your binge, the more likely you are to slip again the next day, and the less confidence you’ll have in yourself that you can change. As soon as you notice a slip, try the following to avoid getting to that “what the hell” moment:

  • Forgive yourself. Remind yourself that lapses are a part of the process, and that feeling guilty or bad about your behavior will not increase your future success. (In fact, self-criticism actually decreases future success.)
  • Rededicate yourself to your resolution (now, in this instant, not tomorrow). Why do you want to make the changes that you do? How will you benefit? Do a little deep breathing and calm contemplation of your goals.
  • Make a plan for the next time you will face a similar challenge. What will you do differently? How will you avoid the temptation in the future? What have you learned from your slip?

Take Action: Learn more about how to successfully make change this year. Read the full post from my Greater Good blog here, or take this online class (“Cracking the Habit Code: 21 Days to Keeping Your Resolutions”). Register by midnight tonight and get the class HALF OFF!

Join the Discussion: What did you resolve this year? How is it going?


  1. Mary Kaiser says:

    This program has been really great — it coincided with a 3 week cleanse and it helped me stay the course– lots of behavior changes required. Would be helpful to me if you did a check-in/refresher in month or 2 — maybe just for day or 2. But loved the content, simplicity and science!

  2. Judy Brown says:

    Thanks, Christine. Having proven methodology is huge!
    I love the references for other experts, too.
    We should never have to figure everything out ourselves; it has already been done.

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