There’s a better way than New Year’s Resolutions

January 24, 2019
Shelley Riser, RN, BSN, MSHA, Vice President, Consulting Services and Clinical Innovation


Motivational interviewing is the better way than New Year's resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or stop smoking

‘Tis the season of resolutions.

Estimates are that 40-50 percent of American adults create New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or stop smoking, many of which are intended to improve one’s health. About 38 percent of us are planning to make exercising more or losing weight our number 1 resolution in 2019; nearly as many (37 percent) say saving money is their top priority.

Whether it’s saving money, eating healthier or exercising more, having goals can be a powerful motivator. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who don’t.

If only achieving goals was as easy as creating them.

The sad truth is that 80 percent of resolution-ers give up the dream by the second week of February. As a clinician who has worked with and observed many patients trying to do the hard work of behavior change, I can honestly say there is a better way:

Motivational interviewing or MI, for short

Motivational interviewing, according to Psychology Today, is a “counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.”

Physicians and care team members who use MI techniques with their patients have achieved significant success in supporting patient behavior change. Backed by hundreds of research studies and decades of successful use in addiction counseling, MI is a patient-centered style of counseling that uses open-ended questions to discover a patient’s intrinsic motivations for behavior change. Rather than lecturing a patient about the weight she’s gained in the past year and her increasing risk for diabetes, a clinician uses MI to help the patient identify her own motivations for improving her health such as being able to watch her daughter walk down the aisle or attend the baptism of her first grandchild.

Want to learn more about the power of motivational interviewing? I invite you to view our free, eight-minute video created by our educational arm, The Geneia Institute.

Free motivational interviewing micro-course


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