3 Steps To Have New Years Resolutions Stick
Ok.. hols are over.. so let's sober up a bit...
New Year's resolutions are a complete waste of time!
Yep, according to a recent study from the University of Scranton, only 8% of all people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
The other 92%?
Well, I don't want to be mean but want to keep this crisp so I'll cut to the core straight away..
The 92% left is all excuses seeking experts.
Overweight? "The gym is too far", "I put on weight so didn't feel like exercising with all that skinny people 'living' in the gym"..
Personal/Business growth? "too tired/busy to get my daily 30 minutes bed read done" "I have kids, so no time to listen to that podcast/audiobook"..
I'm not playing the innocent here... I've too seen my resolutions fade away too.. just like you.
Fact is that most of us fail to keep these nice plans we set in the light of the first new year's dawn.
Studies have shown that close to 70% of people who’ve made new year resolutions will have abandoned them within the first two weeks!
So how can you become the 8% that delivers instead of making excuses?
What separates the dreamers from the doers?
The answer is...
Yes. It's your cerebrum, head, psyche, gray matter, noodle, .. you get me. Your brain!
Especially it's the part called "basal ganglia" that is responsible for certain motor functions, pattern recognition, procedural learning and such BUT foremost habit-forming behaviors!
It's simply part of our genome to resist changes to our routines. We are just like that.
The threat of new habit being brought into our life triggers protective mechanism that has us hesitating and stuck until we end up doing nothing at all.
“Between the great things we cannot do, and the small things we will not do, the danger is that we shall do nothing.”—Adolphe Monod
As lost as this case might seem we can do something about this and "teach the old dog some new tricks" in the end.
I'm definitely suggesting you are old but hey, your routines are. LOL.
Now let me help you understand through a story of a man. It's actually from a book Power of habit by Charles Duhigg.
Eugene is a man whose brain was damaged by an infection and he's living with only a short-term memory (and memory of his life prior to the infection). They (Eugene and his wife) move to a new house to be closer to their kids and Eugene needs to cope with new space and only short-term memory to help him coordinate himself in it.
In the end, he's able to successfully navigate his way around their home, find items in the cupboards with ease, and even take a stroll around the neighborhood…as long as NOTHING changed along his route.
How can a man function like this with hardly any memory at all?
Well, his basal ganglia have not been damaged by the infection.
So Eugene was basically living on an autopilot.
It's just like coming to the office and trying to remember whether you've locked the door in your house or not. You did, .. but you don't remember since you do it every day on full auto.
Hang on.. did I read to my kids yesterday? Oh yes, I did.. doing it in a "robot" mode every night. LOL.
So, ... you are little more than the repetition of your behaviors.
Researchers show that 40% of all our daily activities are simple routines that require little conscious thought.
So if you really want to see things change in your life (for better of course) and start being a doer you need to break bad habits and replace them with good ones.
"But how?", you ask.
You have to start with YOURSELF
The process starts with an audit.
Dreamers fantasize about the future but as a Doer, you must come to grips with your present and plan your future carefully - meaning where do you want to go and how do you get there - step by step.
“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of some bad habits every day.”
― Farshad Asl
I can start with my personal audit.
I have identified that I have been wasting way too much time on tasks that do not need immediate handling.For example, a sudden urge to start tidying up the laundry 30 minutes before I was supposed to have an expert article ready for publishing.
Stupid compulsive must-do-now-or-I-die stuff.
And on contrary, I haven’t invested that much of a time to soaking in the right mindset through podcasts and audio exercises listening.
So you might want to ask yourself:
- How much am I exercising?
- How well am I eating?
- How much of active resting do I get during the day (TV is not counted in!)?
- How much time do I spend leveraging social media for network marketing instead of scrolling through posts for entertainment?
- How much do I ask questions and seek mentorship?
In many of these questions, I found out I wasn't as good off as I thought I will be.
Growing a flattie sitting in my office and eating fast food... and even that irregularly with most of it being in the even after I put kids to bed.
Getting caught up in other people's stories in the FB newsfeed.
Not reaching out to my beloved mentors as much as I should.
And so on and so forth...
But let's stop the weep and start the sweep!!
Taking the risk of sounding like a broken record ... you need to come back to the very basics.
You need to identify where you are at right now and where do you want to go.
Back to the "temporary memory" story now shall we?
The science of habit formation
In The Power of Habit, Duhigg describes the three-step neurological process that forms the habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward.
What Duhigg calls the “Habit Loop” starts with the …
- Cue, an event that triggers your brain to react on autopilot through one of your habits; then, an emotional, physical or mental…
- Routine follows; and finally, the…
- Reward is presented, which helps the brain decide whether a particular “Habit Loop” is worth remembering or not.
Step 1: Choose an Effective Cue
What would remind you to go jogging? What would trigger yourself to reach out to those trainers and just run out the door?
Alarm clock? Post-It note on the fridge? Trainers in the middle of your hall/office/under the bed so that you stumble upon ’em?
A huge poster of a half-naked well-carved athlete? Pic of your ex? Maybe? LOL, You don’t have to go that far.
You can try different cues, and experiment with any combination of them. The goal is to figure out what works for you!
Step 2: Pick a Reward
The reward within your particular Habit Loop needs to provide immediate and undeniable motivation so that you’ll immediately start to yearn for it the second you come in contact with your cue.
Think about what motivates you.
- a piece of quality chocolate after you come back home from jogging…
- fave Netflix series in the evening as a treat…
- counting that ticked off boxes as the day goes by and as you fulfill the tasks (my personal favorite)
Few days after treating you "the" treat you might want to change the reward for something else just so that you keep in the game and motivated.
If the reward does not motivate you anymore that much then it's time to change it.
But DON'T change the routine.
Step 3: Execute Your Routine
This is the action time!
Execute your routine as part of your Habit Loop, and truly commit to your plan.
You could even put your plan in writing in order to really hammer it into your brain. It could be something like:
“Whenever I see [insert CUE here], I will [insert ROUTINE here], to get [insert reward here]”
Specifically, if we go back to the example of jogging…
“Whenever I see my running shoes next to my bed, I will go jogging, to get that delicious piece of chocolate.”
You get the idea…
Now it's time for the rubber to meet the road.
In order to continue to build your new good habits, it's a great idea to ...
And by smart I mean S.M.A.R.T.
According to this goal-setting strategy, your objectives should be:
All 5 parts are important but Attainability is the king here.
“There is no greater mistake than to try to leap an abyss in two jumps.”
—David Lloyd George
To sum things up ...
- Humans are creatures of habit, and therefore hardwired to resist change
- To achieve our goals we need to replace bad habits with good ones
- New habits are created via the Habit Loop: cue, reward, and routine
- Changes you wish to make to your life should be simple (although not necessarily easy) and attainable.
Doers and dreamers are close to each other. Have many things in common. Yet...
If you stay full-time dreamer, your plans, dreams, and goals will end up in the sewer...
The decision is yours to be made.
Are you a dreamer? Are you ok with fantasizing about seeing the world yet never actually running out the door to see how the sunset looks elsewhere?
Or are you a doer - wanting to get more from life and not settling for mediocre action. On contrary, ready to step forward even if the territory is unknown and language there not mother-taught.
As a dreamer, your ship will stand still in the waters waiting for the chance to blow you elsewhere. As a doer, you will harness the power of the wind using it for reaching your destination.
The clock is ticking.
In a few more moments this week is over ...
Before you know the month is over too... and da-da-da-dammm... yet another year has passed and you are where you were. Wondering what could you have done differently.
Let the others comfort themselves with mediocrity.
You know you can do better than that.
The only question to be answered in this moment is...
What is it that you will do differently this year starting RIGHT NOW.. that will make your year far more profitable than ever before?
Your answer will define what you do and how this week, month, the rest of the year will turn out to you...
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And if you found this content helpful, I would love to read your comments below!