Breaking Bad habits and creating good habits is a challenge. Habits by definition are tendencies, unconscious actions, things you do without thinking about it. Which is great if it’s good like washing hands or saying thank you and not so good if they are bad.
Not all resolutions need to be habits but both habits and life style changes require conscious effort to change. Here are some tips and tricks for creating and following through with your new New Years Resolutions.
1. Make resolutions active.
"Watch less Netflix" and "play less video games" are bad resolutions because they are poorly worded. Rather than try to do less of something, a resolution should actively try to do more of a thing.
The reason we sit down and watch hours of TV is because we can. Sure there’s other things we could or maybe even “should” be doing, but we either don’t “need” to or we don’t want to. A resolution like “read more books” is better than “watch less TV” because it gives you an alternative to watching TV. Next time you sit down and reach for the remote you have a mental trigger with something else you could do on the couch.
It’s easier to NOT do something if you have another thing that you can be doing instead.
2. Make resolutions specific.
“Exercise more” is a bad resolution. Not because exercise is bad, but because it doesn’t mean anything. What is more? More than what, last year? Then I only need to exercise once! What constitutes exercise?
“Run three times a week” is a better resolution because it gives you a specific goal you need to try to meet. Something to track and a standard to hold yourself against.
3. Track your progress.
“Eat four salads a week” is a great resolution, but how will you know if you’re keeping it? Tracking past events my memory is not a viable long term solution. We forget stuff all the time, how often do we forget what we ate for breakfast?
Once you have a specific and active resolution, you need to make sure you are on track. Find a calendar, start a journal, it doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be easy. Tracking your progress is important because it reminds you about your goal and provides emotional support when you are feeling tired. Yes, it sounds a bit silly, but when you can look back at a few weeks worth of accomplishment you feel really good about what you can do.
If this journal or calendar is in an easy to see location it’s also a continual reminder about the thing you have resolved to do.
4. Don’t give up when you slip
Life is hectic. Life is crazy. Life is inconsistent. Don’t let a single failure or slip ruin your resolution. You’re better than that. Don’t dwell on it, don’t regret it, just pick up where you left off and keep going. There’s no way anyone is able to be 100% consistent with something for the rest of their lives. Humans just don’t work like that. So just shrug it off and keep going.
I hope these tips and tricks help you become the better person you are trying to be.
Have a great year.