Why do some people have a harder time sticking to their resolutions? And why can some people adopt new habits and make them look effortless? There are many reasons, but the simple answer is that these people are likely adopting habits that are more realistic, more sustainable, and they may have set up their environment in a way that supports their new habits. If you’ve struggled in the past to stick with your overly-ambitious resolutions and this year you want to instead develop long-lasting habits, then this is the blog for you.
- Change your environment to encourage performance of the habit. A positive change would be keeping dental floss visible in multiple places if your goal is to floss after every meal. A negative change to the environment would be hiding items or making it difficult to access items which you are trying to cut out of your daily routine (e.g., taking batteries out of the TV remote and hiding them in hard to reach places if you are trying to watch less TV).
- Make your habit one that is easy and attractive to you. If the thought of habitually getting up at 5 AM to run is not at all attractive or easy for you to do, then why make that your goal? Choose a mode of exercise that you enjoy, and a time which is convenient for you; doing so will ensure you actually perform this task consistently. If fitness isn’t a goal of yours, consider how you can apply this tip to eating more fruit. Choosing fruits which you enjoy, are convenient to keep on your kitchen counter, and easy to eat with minimal preparation makes your new habit more successful. If you choose fruit that requires extensive preparation, is not your favorite, and requires special storage then you are creating more barriers for yourself.
- Track your habits! If you aren’t tracking it, you aren’t completing it. There are multiple versions of habit trackers available, including templates you can print and apps to download. By using a tracker daily, you are reinforcing your performance of the task and holding yourself accountable. For each habit you are tracking, you want to use a separate category or checkbox as this will force you to check eat item off, rather than checking one box for all habits.
- Create a reward system for yourself. Research has shown that successful habits are ones that you adhere to for longer periods of time (we commonly hear “stick to it for a month”). Additional research supports the use of incentives to encourage habit performance. What that means is if you stick to your goal, and create an incentive down the road that keeps you motivated, your chances of staying on track are greater.
Beyond all else, be kind to yourself as you try to add new habits to your life and make changes. It’s not easy and everyone slips up occasionally. Instead of giving up and stopping entirely, it’s helpful to think “Progress, not Perfection”. Start again the next day and your chances of sticking with your habits are much greater than if you had stopped altogether. Good luck and Happy New Year!
TUNE IN TO OUR PODCAST