Cybernaut 

The Resolutions helper

Need help fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions?

You’ve come to the right place – I went six for eight on New Year’s resolutions last year, batting a solid 0.750. It helped that I kept those resolutions simple, like eating more beans and finishing the year with more money in the bank than I started with, but on the whole it’s encouraged me to go a little bigger this year.

I’ve realized that you can’t change who you are or stop the habitual things that you do overnight – human beings are just not programmed that way.

A new study from Washington University in St. Louis found that it’s incredibly hard to break old habits because it’s hard to unlearn our learned behaviours. For example, while nicotine may be physically addictive, most smokers can’t quit because the act of smoking has become automatic – a programmed response to a need or a situation that’s ingrained in a smoker’s memory. To drop a habit, you have to change your association with it, and reinforce that new association every day.

A specific example: if you equate smoking with a feeling of satisfaction, breaks at work, relief from stress, driving, getting out of bed, or consuming alcohol, then you’re going to crave a cigarette every time you’re satisfied, on break stressed out, behind the wheel, waking up in the morning or going out for a beer.

On the other hand, if you equate smoking with lung cancer, heat disease and standing outside in the freezing rain, you’re developing a healthy negative association – part of the reason graphic warnings on cigarette packs and tobacco laws that make smokers go outside are so effective.

If those associations doesn’t work, you may have to make your associations with smoking even more negative. If someone punched you in the crotch every time you lit a cigarette or took a drink of alcohol or put $50 down on the Bears to win, you’d kick your habit in a matter of days. I’m not suggesting anything that drastic, just that you have to make an association bad enough for you to want to quit, and everyone’s threshold is different.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of websites to help you keep some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Good luck!

Smoking

Your first stop is The Truth www.thetruth.com, a militant anti-smoking site. You’ve probably seen their ads, but the website is chock full of facts about the industry, health statistics on smokers, and generally disturbing information – if you’re looking for a negative association, they’ve got it.

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