It’s a ritual. Every year, we look at January 1st as a new beginning and a chance for a fresh start. We decide to change all of our old vices and become new people. Some of the most common resolutions include:
- Lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier
- Pay off debt, start saving, get a better job
- Quit smoking, drinking, arguing
- Get organized, manage time better
Each of these resolutions has to do with habits. In order to stick with the resolution, you must change your existing habits. And that’s where we go wrong. We generally attempt to keep our resolutions by making one broad sweeping change in our life. We then quickly find the change overwhelming and head right back to our old, comfortable habits.
Making Resolutions Stick
New Year’s resolutions are best done one small step at a time. For example – If your resolution is to change the way you eat, lasting dietary changes are more likely to occur when you make small changes over a period of time rather than if they were to completely change their lifestyle in one day.
The quickest way to success is slow and steady.
The existing habits we have are built into our mental programming. We tend to do things a certain way because of what we believe and how we think. Sticking to our resolutions and changing those habits for the long run requires more than just will power it requires reprogramming our beliefs.
When you make small changes and stick with them for at least 30 days, you begin to look deep at what you think and feel about what you are doing. Through the process you begin to evaluate your past beliefs and form new beliefs that better serve you. This is a process that takes time if left to occur on its own. You can, however, facilitate the process by consciously doing the work alone or with a coach.
If you do not go through this process of evaluating your beliefs, you may find that the habit is quickly abandoned even after 30 days at the first sign of temptation or the first chance to go back to your old ways.
Take a few moments to write down one habit you would like to have. Write it down as though you are currently doing that habit. “I am making healthy food choices every time I eat.”
Ok, now draw a line down the center of the page. On one side right down 2 to 3 reasons this habit will serve you well. Be sure to write it down as though it is affecting you directly. “By going to the gym every day for at least 20 minutes I have more energy to do the things I want to do.” On the right side, right down 2 to 3 reasons not doing this or not changing the habit will be harmful to you. “By not going to the gym every day, I don’t have enough energy to play with my kids after work.”
You have now begun to create a new program for your habit.
Once you have begun the new habit, take 5 to 10 minutes a day to review and add to your lists. Research ideas on the web if you need to. Find more ways that the new habit is a benefit and the old habit is a detriment to what you want to get out of life. By taking this step, you will speed up the process of reprogramming your mind to believe that the new habit is a good one and one worth keeping no matter what the challenges or temptations that arise.
The next step is to start. Start immediately. Today. Do not wait til New Year’s Day. Do it today.