With it being the start of a new year it’s not uncommon for people to commit to goals or resolutions. However, fact remains that over 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a week. If change were easy, we’d all be wealthy, fit, and happy. It’s frustrating when you know what you want to do, but you can’t get yourself to do it consistently. If the new behavior would obviously be of benefit, why isn’t that change easy to make?
Change is challenging for several reasons. .Habits are strong and pervasive. The average person has far more habits than they realize. Each morning, you wake up and follow the same routine. You take the same path to work. You think the same thoughts as you did the day before. Much of your day and night is a repeat of the last 500. When you feel bored, you soothe yourself in the same 2-3 ways each time. You only eat a few foods regularly. You talk to the same people. Habits avoid thinking. They’re done automatically. Anything that minimizes thinking seems to be your brain’s preference. The fewer decisions, the better.
To change, you must be certain that change is in your best interest. Otherwise, your habits will always win. Creating new habits can be uncomfortable as the thought of taking the actions necessary to accomplish those goals can create discomfort. What you’re doing is already working, sort of. Your brain is preoccupied with your survival. Our brains are programmed to resist change, because what you’re doing is allowing you to live. Any change could potentially lead to death. You might be unhappy today, but you’re still alive! Most of us prefer misery than facing uncertainty. It isn’t easy to change but it is certainly possible. The primary issue keeping people from following through on their plan to change is attempting to change too much, too soon. Smaller changes are easier to accomplish and to maintain.
Change requires patience with yourself. Understand why it’s so challenging to change and choose to make changes slowly and incrementally. Imagine how much you could change over a few years if you changed just a tiny amount each week. The results would be staggering! How much have you changed over the last few years? Give slow change a chance.
Basic Strategies for Habit Formation
Try these tips for easing into your new routines as quickly as possible:
1. Plan ahead. Eliminate excuses by plotting out your course in advance. If you want to wake up an hour earlier, go to bed on time, and dream about the invigorating yoga class and delicious breakfast that await you in the morning.
2. Start small. To minimize the discomfort that change creates, only change a little each week. Meditating for two minutes each day is easier than starting with 60 minutes. The key is to get in the habit of doing the new behavior each day.
3. Be consistent. Regularity reinforces itself. Pretty soon it will be easier to go to the gym after work rather than changing your mind, even if it’s raining or your colleagues are heading out for beer and pizza.
3.Spot triggers. Kicking a habit requires you to notice what happens right before you bite your nails or buy another pair of shoes. Are you bored at work or arguing with your spouse?
4.Develop substitutions. Once you know your cues, you can choose a different response. Take a walk or invite a friend out for coffee.
5.Review your reasons. Go over the reasons why you want to adopt your new behavior. Remind yourself about how drinking water instead of soda will help your health, strengthen your bones, and save money.
6.Personalize your goals. While you’re contemplating your reasons, visualize your future self. Focus on what you have to gain instead of just pleasing others