5 Ways To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
How to stick to new habits in 2021...
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are the habits we make. In fact, according to Phillippa Lally at University College London , it takes an average of 66 days days to form a new habit.
It’s the start of the year and many people are cultivating new practises; from switching to a vegan diet, cutting out alcohol, to attempting not to rack up a diabolical screen time on Instagram. Unfortunately, we all know many resolutions are often broken, with an average of 80% of New Year’s resolutions failing before the second week of February. Our brains are hardwired to take shortcuts, which means it’s easier for us to slip back into old habits than to stick to the new ones we’re trying to take on. As humans we are masters of sabotaging our own growth, and with the added strain of the past year; working from home, lost jobs, and a general sense of uncertainty, it can be even harder to incite self-discipline. However it’s more accessible than you think if you stick to a simple framework…
Follow these 5 steps to help yourself achieve sustained change.
1. START SMALL
Attainable goals are the best way of forging new practises.The key to sticking to a new lifestyle switch, is subtle incremental change. This means if your New Year’s resolution is to run a marathon, don’t attempt 10 laps round the park on your first day of training. (Apps like Couch to 5K are great for non-runners looking to slowly but consistently build their fitness). If you’re trying to cut out certain foods then don’t completely change your diet over night. If you take on too much then the chances of you overdoing it and losing morale is high. What you need to do is slowly phase into training/a certain diet/cutting vices… to create a stronger foundation for your new lifestyle. Look at these little changes as a “keystone habit”- little formational behaviours that introduce bigger changes.
Have patience, be consistent, and start small.
2. JOURNAL YOUR PROGRESS
Self assessment and regularly checking in with yourself can allow you to see where you are strongest and where you feel like giving up. Writing how you feel from day to day can make your lifestyle change feel more intentional and empowered; so if you do flop you can see exactly what it was that led you there. Writing also helps you to establish your intention and have a constant reminder to stay focused.
Management consultant and guru Peter Drucker said “What gets measured gets managed.” so document your progress, trace your ups and downs and give yourself regular feedback. It’s a great feeling to look at back at the end of the year, and see how your resolution has come to fruition
If you don’t feel you have time to write then Apps like Streaks and Tally are great for tracking your progress and are great visual representations for yourself to stay motivated and on the right path.
3. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES
We all have vulnerabilities that can sabotage our efforts to stay on track. Knowing what triggers you is one of the most fundamental steps to cutting out a bad habit or keeping a new one. Addressing the root of your failure will be the key to your success in achieving your goals. Anticipate the challenges your going to face and identify solutions accordingly. So, making it harder for yourself to succumb to your temptations could include restructuring your environment…keeping a clean work space, chuck out old cigarettes, and remove junk food from the house. Knowing your weaknesses and planning ahead can help you prevent slipping and turning a mistake into a failed resolution.
4. DON’T DO IT ALONE
Team up with a friend and hold each other accountable. This can be great for motivation, and is a helping hand when you’re feeling low. Most of us generally struggle to make big changes independently, having a mate do it with you can help you stick to some kind of accountability structure. Check in with each other regularly, when the going gets tough it can make the world of difference to know that someone is in the same place. If you feel you’re going to crack, call your friend instead of reaching for the cigarette.
Doing it together will not only help you to motivate your friend, but to motivate yourself.
Obviously in the middle of a pandemic it’s tricky if not illegal to meet up with friends physically; so apps like HabitShare; a lifestyle app cum social net work, are great for connecting with your mates. It lets you see their last check-in date and send messages to them encouraging them on their performance
5. DON’T SWEAT THE SLIPS
January’s already a pretty testing month without the added strain of a pandemic.
So don’t be too harsh on yourself if you’ve already lagged on a diet, exercise regime or giving up drinking. In the grand scheme of things a couple slip ups won’t hurt you, the most important thing is to get back on track straight away and avoid the defeatist attitude of “I messed up once, I might as well give up”. Leave room for mistakes, a bad day doesn't have to be a bad year. Be kind to yourself, we are only human after all.