Ask the Dentist: 'How Can I Make My Flossing Resolution Stick?'
It's that time of year again. The time to prepare our New Year's resolutions so we can set them to sail in the coming year. Feverish list making will ensue, promises to loved ones will add up, and hopefully, some of those resolutions will make it past January 7th.
If you'd like to fare better this year, you might want to consider this little bit of mind trickery successful planners use to achieve their goals. The secret is in the time machine…
The time machine? You already know that to achieve a goal it needs to be realistic and measurable, right? But that's only part of it. What savvy achievers do is add an additional step to the mix. Our time machine, if you will. They take a second to visualize the positive results of their plan, and the negative consequences of NOT following through with it. And, they do so as if those consequences were taking place right now. This shift in mindset forces them to avoid making excuses and allows them to see the consequences of not following through in the immediate sense.
Here's how it works with dental resolutions – you know, the familiar and unimaginative kind ... brush regularly, floss more, visit the dentist more frequently. Of the three, only brushing is done at the recommended frequency. Why? Certainly not because of a concern for future health. It's likely done because we know that if we don't brush our teeth before work, we can envision an immediate consequence we will suffer today: bad breath. And we definitely don't want to be the co-worker with bad breath, so we brush. We're not thinking about tomorrow or next year, we're thinking only about today. Yet in thinking about the short term, we end up helping ourselves in the future as well. That's the key.
The time machine principle, then, is all about using your imagination to bring the consequences of your actions closer to home. For example, if your habit of never flossing meant you would lose your teeth this year … would you change your habit? This sort of thinking forces us to be real about our choices. Is losing those few extra minutes of sleep, or dealing with the boredom of the task worth the risk of having to wear dentures for the rest of your life? Which is worse? Always ask yourself which consequence is worse. Bring it to today, and you'll inevitably come to the correct conclusion. Try it; it works.
So, embrace your goals. Make them realistic and measurable, set rewards for when you're successful in achieving them, and imagine the results are near! You can do it. Good luck, and may you have a blessed New Year!