Along with so many of us, Dr. John C. Norcross has a goal for 2013.
My resolution this year is to exercise five times a week, he said. Even if I'm traveling.
If anyone can keep such a resolution, it's probably Norcross.
A professor of psychology at the University of Scranton and adjunct professor of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical College, he has researched strategies that lead to successful self-improvement.
His critically acclaimed new book, Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions gives more details. But he can sum up his advice in five words:
Psych (get ready), Prep (prepare before leaping), Perspire (take action), Persevere (manage slips), and Persist (maintain change).
Those steps work for any kind of positive lifestyle change, Norcross said, whether it's quitting smoking, losing weight, eating more healthfully or exercising more.
People have a tendency to think the solution for each problem is surely different for the smokers and for those who want to lose weight and for those who want to improve their finances. But it's incredibly similar, he said in a telephone interview.
One of the most important things to remember, he said, is to come up with plan.
We know successful resolvers begin practicing, he said. They don't jump out of an airplane and try to sew a parachute on the way down. If they're resolved to quit smoking, they plan other ways they'll relax.
It's also a good idea to remove temptations, he said. Don't keep junk food in the cupboard and expect to rely on the strength of your will power. Get rid of it and you'll increase your chances for success.
And, remember, a lapse is not the same as a relapse. You can pick yourself up after a misstep and continue to make healthful strides.
Whether you're hoping to quit smoking or gambling, commit to exercising more hours a week, eliminate fast food and bike to work, or learn a new skill that will earn you a promotion, following the program outlined in this book can dramatically increase your chance of success—without drugs or other types of formal treatment, Norcross promises, adding the practical program can help you achieve lasting results in 90 days.
My mother told me 90 days was too long, Norcross said with a laugh. So I told her to try it for 13 weeks.
It worked – his mom lost 15 pounds.
The Wall Street Journal's named Changeology to its list of the best books of the year, under the category Best Guides to Later Life, in its Dec. 10 edition.