How many of us set goals and find that sticking to the routine for the long-term to achieve those goals is very, very hard.  A great example is the New Year’s resolution where we promise ourselves and others to do a certain thing for the New Year only to find that we give up the ghost after a few short weeks or months.

Whether you’re trying to improve your health, revamp your daily routine, or get started with some new productivity or happiness-boosting habit, enthusiasm for a new project often easily carries us to our initial goal.   However, once you’ve dropped those 10 pounds or gotten up every morning at 5:00 am for a week, excitement wanes and life tends to drag you back to your old ways of behaving.  Oh, how true that is.

As is so often in my narratives, I reach out to research made available by extremely credible sources, and in this case, a new study out by Stanford University’s Szu-Chi Huang and Jennifer Aaker suggests there is a mindset shift that can turn a short-term burst of enthusiasm into a real, long-lasting life change, making it particularly useful for us Boomers, or anyone of any age for that matter.

To investigate this question, Huang and Aaker designed an experiment where they asked participants who had recently met various health and personal goals to think about their experience in one of two ways.  Either they were told to do the traditional thing and simply pat themselves on the back for reaching their target, or they were instructed to tweak their thinking and reconceive of their recent success as “completing a journey” or “reaching a destination.”  Their results were recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:  Attitudes and Social Cognition.

The takeaway is this, “those who viewed the goal as the completion of a journey not only expressed stronger intentions to continue the goal-related behaviors, but actually did so.  For example, the fitness group was more likely to sign up for an ongoing fitness program.

We are such an impulsive society and generation, where we want instantaneous results to be long-lasting.  But think about their findings just by re-imagining meeting your short-term goal as completing a journey, and how you can significantly increase your chances of sticking with the change for the long haul.  “Thinking about a goal as the completion of journey might prompt you to reflect on how you had been at the start, and all the ups and downs along the way.  This just might make you be the kind of person who engages in these specific behaviors and make them more likely to maintain them.”  

In other words, the journey is a metaphor that focuses your attention on all you’ve weathered to reach a goal, reminding you of your own strength and wisdom, which then helps you carry on in the face of future challenges. 

If all it takes to be a little more resilient and stick with helpful changes is a new mental image, then I think most of us would sign up to give this easy intervention a try.  Go for it!

In one of our upcoming blogs, we will share a bit about our sojourn selecting a new diet and exercise program, and, believe me, it was a painful, noteworthy, yet rewarding journey.  

Whatever you try to achieve, make it a wonderful and productive adventure.

Your BoomerGal, Connie, and her #1 BoomerGuy, Bill


T.S. Eliot

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