You know how a resolution works. Every year it’s the same.
You can’t get a treadmill at the gym, and a newbie snags your favorite spot at your yoga studio.
Then come end of February, crowds thin out like Vader found their rebel base.
This is the curse of the New Years’ Resolution.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Why are most resolutions are destined to fail?
1. Tackling more than one resolution at a time
Your brain can only handle one big change (or resolution) at a time. That’s why doctors tell people attempting to kick smoking not to try to diet at the same time.
In a 2007 study following people who took on multiple health habit changes at one time (going to the gym, attending regular counseling, eating healthier food), the subjects failed.
But when another study asked participants to simply write down their meals once a week, something changed. People created a habit, and they started observing their eating routines. Once they became aware of their routines, they could make healthy changes.
2. Trying to create a new habit rather than altering an old one.
Charles Duhigg’s states in his book, The Power of Habit, that “you can never truly extinguish bad habits. Instead, you change your routine to get the same reward. (More on this below.)
3. Not understanding what triggers the habit in the first place.
Observing your current behavior is the first step to successfully altering it. If you don’t understand what triggers your habit, then you can’t change that habit.
Make a successful resolution.
So how do you maintain consistency in your New Years’ Resolution?
It helps to understand how habits work. Charles Duhigg breaks it down in his book, and I’m going to break it down for you here.
Step 1: Ask yourself what habit you’d like to change?
Example: Going to the gym instead of lazing around the house at home on the internet?
Step 2: Observe how your habit plays out.
Watch yourself to find out what your trigger is. Duhigg asks 5 questions, and I’m adding a 6th.
- Where are you?
- What time is it?
- What’s your emotional state?
- Who else is around?
- What action preceded the urge?
- What was your reward? In other words, what happened immediately AFTER you completed your habit? How did you feel? Where did you end up?
Each time you observe yourself engaging in the habit you want to break, write down the answers to these 6 questions. This helps you figure out your cue and your reward.
Here’s how Duhigg breaks it down:
Cue (or trigger) ⇒ Habit ⇒ Reward
For example, maybe you have a chocolate chip cookie every day and notice your waistline expanding. You write down the answers to the 6 questions, and you find out that you get that chocolate chip cookie at the same time every day, and your reward is socializing with a coworker on the way back from the cafeteria.
Once you know what your trigger is (time of day) and what your reward is (socializing with your co-worker to talk about movies), you can change your habit so that at the time you usually get a cookie, you go to a co-worker’s desk to chat.
Step 3: Experiment.
Try different activities to determine if they give you the same reward.
You may find you’re not craving the reward of socializing but you’re really hungry. Replace the cookie in the scenario above with a healthier treat to see if that works.
Step 4: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall off the wagon.
Just like any habit, you may fall off the wagon. In AA, they tell you that relapse is a natural part of recovery. The important thing is you are observant and take steps to make the changes you’d like to see in your life.
Your next step is to comment below with your New Years resolution. Holding yourself accountable with this little step will get your new New Years’ habit off the the right start.
P.S. If your resolution includes fewer chocolate chip cookies and more healthy sweet treats, try Lola. Lola’s an herbal infusion that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Check out the shop to get some goodness.