When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, research shows that fewer than 10% keep their goals for more than a few months. If you’re one of those people, it is by no means because you aren’t good enough. It’s because reaching new goals requires building new habits, and habit-forming is difficult. However, reaching a new goal doesn’t have to feel like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. There are 3 simple steps to building a new habit — reminder, routine, and reward.
1. Reminder: Try to come up with a reminder that will tell you to carry out your new habit. For example, say you want to start taking a daily supplement. Instead of relying on willpower, which comes and goes, and randomly inserting it into your routine, try setting a daily alarm or tying it into an existing daily behavior. An example could be taking your supplement with your morning coffee. After some practice, the the new habit will require less thought and become more automatic.
2. Routine: Make your habit easy to accomplish. When we’re feeling inspired by a new goal, it’s easy to expect too much of ourselves too soon. For example, someone who has never run before setting a lofty goal to start running 2 miles a day. Instead, start by running a lap around the block or down the street. Performance shouldn’t be the main focus when you’re beginning and you can scale up later once your habit becomes more automatic. Make it fun and don’t overwhelm yourself.
3. Reward: Reward yourself after successfully practicing your habit. We need positive reinforcement and looking ahead to the long-term pay off is usually not enough. It’s in our nature to want to continue doing things that make us feel good now. It might feel weird, but positive self-encouragement can go a long way. You could try rewarding yourself with something that brings you joy, like a piece of chocolate or taking a break to do a fun hobby.
When we set out to do something differently in life, it’s not enough to simply set a goal. It requires changing an existing behavior to be successful. Practicing these 3 steps can help set you up for success.
Happy New Year!
Adam Gloyeske, LAc