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A scientist named Roy Baumeister did a study where he had students fast for a time before they arrived at his lab. When they arrived, the entire lab smelled like freshly baked cookies. In front of them were a bowl of cookies and a bowl of radishes. One group was allowed to eat the cookies while the other one was only allowed to eat from the bowl of radishes.They were left alone in the room for awhile … and while none of the radish group cheated they stared longingly at the cookies. Some even touched and smelled them.

These students were then brought into a different room to work on a puzzle that could not be solved. They didn’t know the puzzle had no solution and thought it was an IQ test. The real test was on their perseverance. The researchers wanted to know how long they would try to solve the puzzle. The cookie eaters worked for an average of 20 minutes before quitting. The radish eaters, however, quit after an average of 8 minutes. A control group not involved in the cookie test also tried the puzzle for an average of 20 minutes.

The conclusion – the radish eaters depleted their willpower reserves resisting the cookies, leaving little left to push through the puzzle.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to drop 20, 30 or even 100lbs and become a happier person?

The above study proves that if you focus on one item so intensely to stay perfect you will lose the willpower to push through other changes and you may not even complete the obsession of your focus.  At the same time you may use up all your willpower and create new bad habits that you didn’t have before.

Making changes to improve you shouldn’t be about pain and suffering but about positive change that results in a happier life.  I’m not against making lists or goals as it will help keep you focused but choose small changes to create long lasting change.

If your goal is to become more physically fit, happier, or whatever it may be, you need to determine where you are on the learning curve and learn what else you need.  It took time for you to get into the position you are currently in and it will take time to get out.

So throw out that New Year’s resolution and pick a journey instead of an end point.  Get through the learning curve and when that is complete you will begin to see yourself accomplishing more than you ever thought you could.