New Year’s Resolutions: Can You Make It Past Past Spring?
The infamous ‘January 10th’ has loomed over many well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. Research shows that 32% abandon resolutions by this date, and only 38% stick with them until the end of January. So, if that’s you, you might want to amend your strategy before moving into February and March, where the stats are even more disheartening.
Are we just weak-willed dreamers? No, we are just missing some tricks.
Common resolutions like giving up or reducing alcohol, losing weight, and cutting down on screen time often fall by the wayside. Einstein’s definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” should prompt us to reconsider our approach.
Let’s do things differently this year.
6 Ways to Avoid Quitting
1) Start at the end of January: It may seem counterintuitive to start when January is almost over but introducing small and manageable goals way after the Christmas chaos is more likely to result in success. Skipping the daunting and sometimes rather sudden ‘back to routine’ phase can be a shock to the system. And, time to reflect is often needed.
2) Embrace Small, Scalable Goals: Add small changes and reward each one as and when they are achieved. Your mind is still in gifting mode after all.
A new positive habit, such as a 10-minute daily exercise routine becomes more achievable and even appealing when there’s a delightful incentive attached. Could be a couple of episodes of your new favourite Netflix series with a cuppa and some dark chocolate planned for the evening. Or treating yourself to something new as a reward.
Tip – Try to fit in an exercise session before heading out for the day to boost your sense of accomplishment early on. This paves the way for success for the rest of the day. Remember, that 20-minute scamper, out in the fresh air, somehow makes a mid-morning coffee taste so much nicer!
(3) Rewrite Your Self-Story: Inspired by Stephen Bartlett’s interview with Chris Eubank Jr., this tip emphasises the importance of persistence. Eubank Jr.’s decision to continue a challenging and rather harrowing sparring session fuelled his powerful self-story that led to his unyielding resilience to commit. Despite the pain he endured during that momentus sparring session, he refers to his mantra throughout that time, ‘I must complete three rounds’. And he did.
It’s easy to bail on a commitment, like a planned run just because some heavy rain represents an ‘out.’ But, building a self-story of being that someone who finds reasons to break a commitment is self-sabotage. Derailing plans can easily become a part of who you are – and no one wants to be known for that. Stick to your goals, even in challenging conditions. Reinforce a story of commitment and strength.
4) Design Your Environment for Success: If you’re cutting down on chocolate, ensure it’s not the only snack option available. Creating an environment conducive to your goals is crucial.
- Design a room to accommodate your new habits. If you want to exercise first thing, put your workout gear at the bottom of your bed each night before you go to sleep. This way, you have to face it first thing when you wake up.
- Put your water flosser in the shower so you do it while showering in the morning.
- Put the book you want to read on top of the remote control.
5) Substitute, Don’t Eliminate: Instead of giving up something entirely, find a healthier or more productive alternative. This approach helps you to avoid feelings of deprivation. Keep some dark chocolate handy for those chocolate cravings.
Line up that TED talk on your smart TV, so that’s the first thing you see when the TV turns on.
Freeze some home-made, tasty take-away dishes to accommodate those unexpected pangs for a Chinese or Indian.
6) Anchor New Habits to Established Ones: Link your new goal to a well-entrenched habit. For example, complete a task that links to a goal while your morning coffee brews or during a teeth-brushing session.
Remember, changing habits is more about strategic planning and less about sheer willpower. With these refined approaches, you might just find yourself beating the odds and thriving well into the summer months when you can officially celebrate your new, well-established habits.
Ready to put these transformative ideas into action?
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Strategy Tips for Building New and Sustainable Habits in 2024
Ease into resolutions to allow for gradual development of sustainable habits. Quick and drastic changes will be challenging to maintain in the long term.
- Avoid Burnout: Rapid changes can lead to burnout. Starting slowly allows you to build momentum over time without overwhelming yourself.
- Set Realistic Expectations: A gradual approach to something you know you are physically and mentally capable of helps align your resolutions with achievable goals to foster a sense of accomplishment.
- Establish a Routine: Incorporate changes that help to establish a new routine. Habits are more likely to stick when integrated into your daily life in a manageable way.
- Reduce Stress: Drastic changes can contribute to stress. Take small steps to minimise stress levels and help you adjust to the new behaviours.
- Learn and Adjust: Ease into resolutions to allow time and mistakes as you learn and adjust. Evaluate what works for you and make necessary modifications along the way.
- Create Lasting Change: Sustainable change often involves gradual adjustments. Aim for small, consistent efforts over time to lead to lasting behavioural changes.
- Build Confidence: Success breeds confidence. Achieve small milestones initially to boost your confidence and motivation to tackle larger goals later.
- Cultivate Patience: Patience is crucial for long-term success. Take the gentle and gradual approach and build resilience when facing challenges.
- Balance Multiple Resolutions: If you have multiple resolutions, ease into them to allow you to balance and prioritise without feeling overwhelmed.
- Focus on Process: Having a workable process will encourage you to take each necessary step rather than obsessing over the end goal. Enjoy the journey to make the pursuit of resolutions more fulfilling.
- Mindful Goal-Setting: Take the time to reflect on your resolutions and set mindful goals to increase the likelihood of meaningful and positive changes.