Have you ever made a new resolution with the best of intentions,
but within days or weeks you’re right back where you started?
Unfortunately, at some point in life – this happens to all of us.
Whether you want to try out a new sport, spend more time with your kids or even find the time to write your own novel
– it’s an unfortunate reality that many of us struggle with our daily routines and lose sight of our personal goals which get forgotten.
So, what is the secret to making changes stick?
As you’ve probably already guessed: HABITS are key
We know now that it’s not enough just to verbally commit to your new resolution or even to write it down.
Recent neuroscience research has shown that it is much easier to build a new habit than to change an old one.
Our brain is like a “connecting machine”, we find it is easy to create new wiring but almost impossible to replace existing wiring.
To make your new resolutions stick, you need to form new habits to replace the old ones.
Since your habits are ways of behaving or thinking that you’ve acquired throughout the years,
you need to have a plan and an understanding of how to form new habits efficiently.
Here are 3 tips to help you form your desired new habits:
- Explore your current habit / current situation
a. Ask yourself what is happening now? (what, who, when and how often)?
b. What is challenging me today and stopping me from achieving my goal?
c. What do I need to STOP doing in order to achieve this goal?
d. Can I point out the specific time at the day that my new resolution is going off tracks?For example: my goal is to do more sport and I plan to go to the gym in the evenings, but I
find it hard to leave the house after a long day at work. One thing that I need to change is my
daily routine: I can go early in the morning before going to work or straight after work before I
arrive at home. Simply put – changing my routine will help me to stick to my new resolution.
- Know your “habit personality.”
In her book “Better than Before” Gretchen Rubin describes 4 personality types that respond differently
to expectations. Gretchen claims that forming a new habit is equivalent to setting expectations for ourselves
and as such, we need to understand our personality type to form the new habit accordingly.A. Upholders – respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations. People with this personality
type are much more receptive to new habits and will take action if it’s part of their to-do list.B. Obligers – respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations – need external support to commit
to their new habits. A great solution would be to go with a partner to the gym or ask someone close to keep track of their new sports regime.C. Questioners – question all expectations and respond to an expectation only if they conclude it makes sense.
For this personality type, great support could be found in writing down all the benefits of the new resolution.D. Rebels – resist all expectations and choose to act only from a sense of choice. In general, rebels don’t like the idea of
habits and will embrace one only if they feel it supports their freedom.Knowing our “habit personality” can help us form our new habits in a much
more compelling way that will meet our individual needs.
- The new resolution is not a “willpower exercise.”
Willpower is an important aspect of our lives. It helps us to strive and to thrive, it is the base of our life-choices,
our achievements and in general, people with stronger willpower are happier, manage conflict better and experience more
career success. But some researchers suggest that we have a limited amount of willpower strength, and as we use it, we drain it.
And that is why habits are so important.
With habits, we are performing without thinking and don’t need to exercise our willpower or put it to the test.
When committing to your new resolution also think about the things that can go wrong.
When do you anticipate you will need your willpower to continue with your commitment?
If you identify this type of pattern – replace it with a new habit.
For example: let’s say that you decided that the best time for you to work out is early in the morning.
Creating new “supporting” habits to make this happen, like going to bed early the night before, will help
you to make sure you don’t need to use your willpower just to get out of bed.
No matter how motivated you are, or which tip you choose to use, planning is the key to
making your new resolution work. And with the right plan in place, I am certain you will GO FAR