2018 is nearly upon us. New Years is an amazing time. People see it as an opportunity to push the reset button, to turn over a new page, to make new and healthier habits. We all start a new year with the best intentions – with a list of things that we would like to change, but how often do we stick to them? Are you someone who fails to keep the promises that you made to yourself at the beginning of the year? Some people even avoid making resolutions altogether after many failed attempts at keeping them! New Years resolutions are in fact a great way to reconnect to what you want and keep you grounded with purpose for the year to come.
What if I told you that there were resolutions that you could stick to? Resolutions that would become new, learned behaviours to see you through life, well beyond just the year ahead.
It is a common myth that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. However, research is emerging advising that you must perform an activity for 66 days consecutively in order to form a habit. Research is also advising that for your new habit to “stick” you need distinct cues that remind you to perform the action.
Cues can be:
- Situational, for example, leaving your gym shoes next to the front door where they are visible or;
- Contextual, for example, the time of the day you would usually go to the gym (or perform exercise such as going for a walk)
People commonly say to me that in the new year they wish to be “healthier”. Whilst this is a fantastic goal to have, it is so broad that it makes it almost unachievable. It will leave you feeling overwhelmed and floundering.
So what should you do?
- Decide on your MAIN resolution.
- Choose a simple action that you can do consistently, that will get you towards your main resolution.
- Plan WHEN and WHERE you will perform these actions – these will serve as your CUES
Sounds easy right?
Keep in mind that it is not about simply just implementing these behaviours. It takes time, compassion and resilience to built fresh neural pathways.
What will help me along the way?
- REFLECTION. Make sure that you take the time to stop and think about what has been working and what hasn’t. Reviewing your goals regularly helps give you a clear assessment of how you have been tracking and what you need to improve on
- Instead of rebuilding Rome, make sure that you only choose one of two resolutions to focus on. Overcommitting and making too many promises means more room for slip ups.
- Redefine failure. This is one of the most important points. Accept that you may revert to your old habits. How you view these slip ups is key. Treat them as a setback, not a failure. If you are not kind and compassionate towards yourself and embrace the human in you, a stumble can become a reason to give up. Don’t be deflated by hurdles or setbacks. Be proud of each step forward.
- Carefully set your goals. Define what your primary goal – ensure it is realistic – then make it specific and devise an action plan that you can break down into small, achievable steps, with deadlines. Ensure you become used to each habit before taking on the next one.
- Resolutions can be made ANY day of the year. It is important that you are mentally ready to make change. The New Year may not be the right time for you. Don’t make a resolution just because it is the end of a year.
- Don’t continuously make the same resolutions without changing your plan!
- Keep a diary. Sometimes it can be helpful to keep a written record whilst forming a new routine. Writing your goals and your progress towards them not only fixes it in your subconscious, but allows you to record your journey with it’s ups and downs. Use it as motivation and persevere until the goal is accomplished.