New Year's Day is when many of us adapt to a new way of life that reflects who we wish to be. Unsurprisingly, many fail to adapt to their New Year's vision, given it's only a "pie in the sky" vision. Change comes when your everyday habits reflect your vision, regardless of whether you're feeling motivated or not. In this post, you'll learn how to make your New Year's resolutions practical and attainable by forming habits.
The way to stick to New Year's resolution is to form small, realistic habits that will help you reach your overarching goal. For example, if it's to get in shape, you'll need to break your vision for a healthier body into regularly scheduled behaviors — better known as habits. Of course, you have to enforce new habits, but once they've become routine, they're able to stick.
Habit forming unavoidably takes time. In the beginning, you have to plan and devote attention to a new habit. Then, with repetition over time, it becomes increasingly automatic. There's no trick or hack, but rather a buildup of momentum that gradually shapes new behavior.
Habit stacking is a technique for building new habits by tacking them on to existing ones in your routine. For example, if you want to start an exercise habit, you can add a workout to your morning routine before showering. This is because it's easier to get accustomed to working out before your shower instead of willing yourself to work out every day. In other words, associating a new habit with one that's already ingrained helps embed it in your routine.
We spend a good portion of each day on "autopilot" or "going through the motions." It's not a bad thing; it's typically because the mind is focused on what's deemed most important. Changing what happens on autopilot, however, is key to following through on long-term intentions.
A New Year's resolution can be really generic, like the intention to think more positively or eat more healthfully. But, when it comes to making it happen, you need specific, measurable goals. For example, eating healthier could mean setting a goal of cooking two paleo meals and two Mediterranean meals per week. This way, you can go right into action and avoid getting hung up day-to-day on how you'll get there.
The way to develop a habit is to keep it small and realistic. You might be surprised how much a tiny habit adds up to significant change. For example, if your goal is to practice yoga or meditation every day, aim for just 10 minutes. What's more important than practicing 30 minutes in a day is repeating your practice over weeks and months.
Don't count on committing habits to memory in the beginning. Set reminders like alarms or notifications that will remind you of exactly what you've planned to do.
Team up with a responsible friend, colleague or family member who can hold you accountable for your New Year's resolution. Alternatively, you could hire an accountability coach. Let them know your goals and ask them to check on your progress once or twice a week. You can also join a group of people who share an interest in forming habits. For example, if you want to develop a meditation habit, join a meditation group. If you want to run more often, join a running club. Ultimately, to stay in the group, you need to stick to your new habits.
To follow through on a goal, you can't always rely on motivation. Adhering to a vague ideal also doesn't work. To make your New Year's resolution practical, form one or more small habits that build up lasting change. With accountability, habit stacking, reminders, and ultimately repetition, you'll push past the initial struggle and make a new behavior become a natural habit of yours.