We’re now a solid 13 days into 2015. Did you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you sticking to them?
I usually don’t make resolutions any longer. I feel like creating all of these goals that are new habits can be really depressing when I don’t achieve. It’s not that I’m unwilling to work at it. It’s simply that new habits are hard to create. And it can be heartbreaking to disappoint myself. So the best way I find to tackle ‘resolutions’ is simple: I reflect back on the year, what I want to accomplish, and use this list below to create new habits that I can stick with throughout the year. Here are five simple things you can do to create new habits and kick those resolutions in the butt!
- Set OBTAINABLE Goals
- I’m not talking about goals of Peace in the Middle East or finding the lost civilization of China, I’m talking about identifying goals that relate to you. Do you want to quit smoking within 2 months? Start working out 2-3 times a week? Or spend more time with the kids – ie. 10 hours a weekend doing things together?
- Don’t create super big goals like Lose 50 pounds in 6 months. Yes, people do it, but if you don’t come close, you’ll get discouraged. Instead, try a goal of working out 3-4 times a week. Set a goal of walking at least 30 minutes a day. Seeing this huge, goal with all these obstacles can be daunting. You want to tell yourself this new habit is fun and doable. So make it doable.
- TAKE SMALL ACTIONS TO TRICK YOURSELF INTO A NEW HABIT
- Create a Plan with Solid Timeframe
- You’ll notice I created some smaller goals that have a doable time frame above. Having bite sized goals that you can chew, as well as a time frame gives you actionables. And with time lines, we all function a bit better. My goal was to help my sister and I get more organized this month. So within a week, I added drawers to my closet, built her wardrobe, and am now clearing clutter. This last part will take a while, but I’m going!
- Having deadlines or using a calendar to help you organize your thoughts and actions really helps cement this habit in your brain and schedule.
- CREATE A TIMETABLE WITH DEADLINES
- Use Triggers
- Some people may not realize that triggers help us with our routines. For instance, social drinking. For some, when you have a drink, that’s a trigger to have a cigarette. I want to work out more often, so once I get up, I put on workout clothes to ‘trigger’ my habit of working out in the AM, or as soon as I can get it done!
- Triggers won’t be automatic, but once you start doing it for a few weeks, it’ll be natural and help get you ready for your new habit!
- CREATE TRIGGERS AS PART OF YOUR ROUTINE
- Make it Convenient and Fun
- I got into an accident last year that left me unable to work out for waaaayyyy too long. Then I discovered that my usual habit of hitting my gym 4x a week had easily and quickly disappeared. What?! Well, getting it back wouldn’t be hard since I used to do it, right? Totally wrong. The only way I really started getting back into working out was making it convenient so my brain couldn’t tell me ‘you have to drive 20 miniutes to get there, so don’t bother.’ Or, ‘dude, it’s raining. Don’t go out in this weather.’ Making my new workout place all of 5 min by car, or even closer with a 5 minute walk was the solution. Plus I tried something new and interesting. That keeps me coming back for more.
- The habit has to be easy and fun, otherwise it won’t click.
- MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
- The best way to create a new habit is keep doing it. You’ll get better at whatever that habit is, you’ll get used to it as part of your day, you’ll miss it when you don’t do it. That’s what your brain will say to you once you’ve made this something in your life.
- By using small steps to create new habits, you’re actually tricking your brain into (and this is where it’ll get a bit scientific) creating a new neural pathway. Once you’ve created a new habit, make it the stepping stone to something else in your life. Working out 2-3 times a week means you’re creating a healthier lifestyle, and a healthier you. Stopping smoking means you’re doing something awesome for your body and family. After you kick that to the curb, you can tackle something else. Every marathon starts with a step. So let’s get stepping!
- DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN!
Is there something you have been wanting to tackle? What are your goals this year?