“Changes” in the words of David Bowie can be facing the strange. So how many of you are still keeping your new year resolutions? (Mine are a work in progress so I cannot really comment!) My daughter said the other day that new year resolutions should not be just a fad but a life change – easier said than done.
As a health psychologist I have learnt a huge amount about behaviour change, but one of the theories I am going to talk about today is one favoured by exercise/sport psychologists: namely self-determination theory – SDT (Deci & Ryan) which suggests that there are three important aspects of changing behaviour: (i) be autonomous i.e. you choose how you are going to change your behaviour and what to do – don’t let anyone else decide that for you; (ii) competency – choose something that you have been successful at before or something you have a good chance of mastering i.e. be realistic; (iii) support – this is what it says on the tin e.g. an exercise buddy. Make plans too – be specific e.g.make a decision about which day and what time you are going to introduce this habit change.
Also SDT emphasis the importance of intrinsic motivation i.e. do something that you enjoy, so in the words of Bowie again – “Let’s Dance”?