Making Sustainable Resolutions for 2015

ditch new years resolutions day I’m barely thinking about Christmas yet so it seems strange to be talking about New Year. But now is a great time to be thinking about resolutions and how they can tie neatly to your personal, work and sustainable living goals. After the Christmas binge we all feel guilty about being unhealthy, the amount we have spent and our effect on the planet and this is why millions of us make resolutions for the upcoming year.

However, we all know that change isn’t easy and just because we say we are going to do something doesn’t mean that we will follow through. In fact research suggests that up to 92% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions and almost half fail in the first month. So how can you escape being part of this majority and turn your good intentions into actions? At Do Nation we have built up expertise in behaviour change from theory to practice, so we thought we’d share some of our top tips of how to stick to resolutions and create sustainable change both at home and at work.

Be SMART

There is much research to support using goal setting theory in setting objectives, particularly making sure goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-targeted. This concept is fundamental to how pledging works on Do Good for Business, and it’s been shown to work again and again. Instead of just setting a resolution to be more sustainable, try setting a specific action that is tangible, such as cutting out six meat meals per week for two months.

Keep it simple and have fun

Experiments have shown we go into “cognitive overload” if we try and make too many goals. We only have a certain amount of will power and our busy modern lives already put much pressure on this limited resource. That’s why it’s important to set simple goals that are fun so you want to complete them rather than feel youneed to. All our Do Actions are designed to be fun and have many other benefits than just saving the planet (as if that wasn’t enough).

Make it social

Countless research shows that the people around you can have a significant impact on your behaviour. So if you tell some of your friends, family or colleagues about the new habit you’re trying to create, you are much more likely to stick to it. In this way, the public nature of the pledges on Do Nation, shared within tight-knit teams, motivates people to keep to their word. Friendly team competition increases this motivation even further, with colleagues and friends holding each other to account on their pledges.

Follow up

For too many people New Year’s resolutions are things you think about at the start of January and never again. At Do Nation we are striving to tackle this, so we have built follow up communications and reminders into the core of our platform. After two months employees return to confirm how they got on. That’s the critical bit, and the bit that really helps people stick to those hard-to-crack new habits.

Habits

Long term behaviour change is the Holy Grail, but you can’t ask for it upfront. I think that’s one reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail – if you’re struggling after a couple of weeks, the idea of keeping it up for a whole year just makes you want to give up. That’s why we ask people to carry out pledges for just two months. But the beauty is we have found that once people have succeeded in trying an action for two months, 81% of people who confirm, continue doing it for at least a year (see our social impact report for more details).

Last year Audit Scotland used Do Good for Business to engage their employees in making sustainablity focused New Year’s resolutions. They’re a relatively small company with just 250 employees, but together they saved 9 tonnes of CO2 – that’s the same amount of carbon as emitted by 21 flights from Glasgow to New York. So why not help your employees reach their goals in 2015? Setting up your own campaign is simple and cost effective, find out more here, or just drop me a line at richard@WeAreDoNation.com to arrange a time to speak.

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