Every January we make new resolutions to get fitter, to eat healthier, to make more money, but then somewhere around the middle of January we start to see cracks in our new amour and then by the end of the month our will power has crumbled and we’re back to the same old routine as before. Why is that? It’s because we focus too much on the big picture. Too much on the outcome instead of the small things that are easy to change but make all the difference. In other words we should be focusing on habits instead of resolutions.
What Are Habits?
The hardest thing for most people, when it comes to building habits, is sticking to it long enough for it to become ingrained.
Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform each and every day. When you think about it, your life is essentially the sum of your old habits.
What you repeatedly do – what do you eat for lunch each day, who do you talk to the most, what you spend time thinking about and doing each day – ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and your personality.
Ways to Form Better Habits
So how do you build new habits? Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same pattern. Reminder which triggers the behavior, then the action you take, and reward. When you understand the patterns of a habit it’s easier to stick to new habit and get rid of the bad ones.
Do not focus on results as you’re forming the habit and make the habit as tiny as possible. Don’t go hard on yourself and whatever you think you should do, cut it in half. Want to work on that novel four times a week? Try two instead. I know that sounds like nothing – and that’s the point. Your habit should be easy to do and maintain. Don’t think of yourself as a failure if you don’t reach some unattainable goal.
It’s really important that you get positive feedback for doing the habit immediately. Many people do a habit they hate like going to the gym, which is built-in negative feedback, and then wonder why they can’t stick to it. Do a habit you love or find a way to enjoy doing the habit. There’s no use in torturing yourself with a habit you hate. If you hate the gym but enjoy Zumba then why not find a class in your neighbourhood?
And lastly, tell at least one other person about your habit change, and ask them to keep you accountable. A bit of friendly peer pressure can increases the likelihood of sticking to the habit by about 50%, if not more.
Maintain momentum and immediately move to the next task you are motivated to finish. Let the momentum of finishing one task carry you directly into the next behavior. With each repetition, you will become more committed to your new self-image and continue towards improving yourself.