I think the new year is a very exciting time. We tend to get all excited about the new plans, the goals, the achievements we're going to have, and how much our life is going to change over the next year. There's a lot of momentum and energy and excitement moving forward. But that tends to wane and fall off very, very quickly. There are many things you can do to keep that momentum going, but today I've got five tips for you to help you actually keep your New Year's resolutions! Turn those resolutions into new habits, not just for a week or two, but for the entire year.
I know you've got some great, exciting plans for the New Year! What I am going to share with you today is five ways to follow through with those resolutions so they become habits that actually stick.
I know that you want to achieve the goals you've set for yourself. You promise yourself that this year will be different! It can be different! Follow through and implement these 5 practices, and you'll be well on your want to keeping those New Year's resolutions.
(Watch the video, or read on...)
Tip #1: Pair the new habit with a current habit
It's much easier to maintain your new habit if you just add it on to some other behavior that you already do automatically.
For example, let's say your new habit is that you want to go for a walk every day. A pretty simple new habit.... So if you have a particular time that you take lunch, when you take your lunch break, instead of spending the rest of your break surfing Facebook, or being on the internet, that's when you would take your walk.
Now you're pairing your activity, your new habit of taking a walk, with something you already do, which is eating lunch.
This is an especially helpful tip when you're creating your morning routine. It's easier to keep that New Year's resolution of exercising or meditating if you do it in the morning. Just couple it with your habit of brushing your teeth, drinking your tea, or studying the scriptures.
Take a look at your habits that you already have, and the new habits that you're establishing and see where you can fit them into your schedule. Where you can pair them up with something to make it much easier for you to have consistency and follow through?
The hardest thing with any new habit, of course, is to maintain that new habit consistently over time.
When you pair your new habit with something that you've already established, make sure that it's something that you know that makes sense in your routine and your timing as you're going throughout your day.
What new habit can you pair with a current habit?
Tip #2: Choose your rewards carefully
We like to reward ourselves for habits and good behavior.
(And by the way, if you're not, that's something else you can do!) The reward give us positive reinforcement, which makes it more likely for us to continue to move forward.
You want to move away from negative reinforcement in the things that you're doing, and move toward positive reinforcement,
But there's a big caveat here! You have to choose your rewards carefully.
Let’s say your habit is to take a walk every day. One of the reasons you're creating that habit is so that you can maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body. Then don't reward yourself at the end of, say, seven days of being consistent, with a piece of cake. That is in opposition to the new habit that you're trying to form!
Reward yourself instead with a new pair of shoes, or a new podcast or audiobook that you can listen to when you're on your walk.
Choose your rewards so that they reinforce your new habit, not so that they negate your habit.
What can you reward yourself with for keeping your New Year's resolutions? Think of 5 ways you could reinforce the new behavior.
Tip #3: Keep you patterns consistent
We tend to have this belief in our culture that weekends are completely different from the rest of the week. We think that on the weekends, we can slack off. We think, "Oh, now I can play, it's the weekend! I can sleep in, I can eat whatever I want, I don't have to exercise."
It’s basically a negative reward, instead of a positive reward for all of the great work you’ve done during the week. This type of thinking will hold you back in life. You'll never see the changes you want if you follow this pattern.
When you do that, when you let yourself slack off, you’ve just destroyed everything that you've put all your effort into during the week to keep those habits going.
Every time you get off track like that it takes more energy and more effort to get back on track. So make sure that you are maintaining the same habits every single day of the week, not giving yourself an excuse every weekend, to get off track and to do whatever you want.
Along the same lines, it's really important to maintain your habits as much as you can during holidays and vacations, because those times will add up.
If you allow yourself to disregard all of your habits every time it's a holiday or every time it's a day off, every time you go on a vacation, it's very, very difficult to return to those behaviors and those patterns again. This is a sure-fire way to fail at keeping your resolutions.
If you have kids, you know exactly what this is like. When they've been offer for spring break or for the summer and it's time to go back in the fall, it takes a lot of work to get those sleep patterns and those habits reestablished. The same is true for us as adults.
Be consistent every day of the week. Holidays, vacations and whatever is going on, as best as you can, maintain those habits. Don't give yourself excuses.
Tip #4: Know your why
This one is really the most important one of this list. Know your why.
Why are you doing this habit? Why is it important to you?
It’s critical to make sure that the habit is yours and what you want. It’s just an important to know why you want to form that habit.
As I was brushing my teeth this morning I actually flossed… and I say "actually" because I do not have a very good flossing habit. (I bet you're like me in that regard.) Why not? Well, because it's not my habit. It's what the dentist wants me to do. It's not ingrained in me and I don't have a big why for making that important.
Whatever your habits are, take some time to think about why you want to incorporate that habit into your life.
How will you feel? What will that habit do for you? How will your life change? How will your relationships change, your business change, or whatever it is?
Look at that habit and really dig deep to figure out why it's so important to you to have that habit.
Then, keep that why in front of you. Wherever you keep your habit and you're tracking your habits, make sure you write your why or have a picture of your why. It will make it so much easier for you to have that pattern be repeated day after day after day.
Tip #5: Be consistent (show up!)
Well, of course, this is how we form habits!
But it's very easy for us to say, “Well, I don't feel like it today. So I'm not going to do it.” Or we think, “I feel great today!” and then it's really easy to do it.
That is going to happen a week into your new habit, six months into it, and even years into a fully established habit. You're going to have days that are good days and days that are bad days.
The point is to do the activity, whether you feel like it or not, because you will still reap the rewards and the benefits when you even when you don't feel like it.
This is what separates the truly successful in life from those who just get by. If you want to live the life of your dreams, you need to do the work.....every day.
If you don't feel like exercising, you don't feel like meditating, you don't feel like getting up early, you don't feel like practicing your instrument today…whatever it is, it's even more critical to perform your habit on those days when you don't feel like it than it is on the days when you're feeling great and everything's easy.
It's on the days when you don't feel like it and you do it anyway that you have this great sense of accomplishment. It builds up your sense of self-worth and your belief in yourself that you CAN reach those goals.
Do these 5 things to make your New Year's resolutions stick
- Pair the new habit with a current habit
- Choose rewards that support your new habit
- Keep your patterns the same, whether it's Tuesday or Saturday!
- Know your "why"
- Be consistent...show up and do the work
What resolutions have you set for the New Year? What's your favorite way to make the new habit stick?