New Year’s Resolutions 911

An article about New Year’s resolutions in February may seem a bit untimely, but listen…we know how these things go. January 1st rolls in, and you are READY. You are ON IT. There is nothing in this world that’s going to stand between the old you and the NEW you. But life has a tendency to creep its way in and, gradually, you start to notice your commitment to hitting the gym three times a week has dwindled to maybe once or twice every other week. If that. And all those healthy meals you planned out? Ordering pizza is just so much easier after a tiring day at work.

So one month in, here you are. Struggling. Again. It’s a common story, repeated by many, many people, every dang year.

But all is not hopeless! You just need a few simple tips and tricks to get you back on track. Let’s take a minute and regroup….

Habits are Funny Things

At their essence, habits are behaviors, triggered by cues, that happen with little to no thought. You stumble into your kitchen at 6 am, you see the coffee machine, you brew a cup. It doesn’t take much of your still-sleepy brain to go through the motions.

The 21 Day Myth

A smart guy in the 60’s noticed that behaviors take AT LEAST 21 days to become a habit. Somewhere along the line the “at least” part got skipped, and everyone jumped aboard the happy habit train thinking they could hop off at 21 days and be good to go. Sadly, that is not the case. In reality, habits—whether you’re adding them or subtracting them—take around 66 days or longer to really settle in and become the kind of happy, healthy, no-brainer routines we strive for. But don’t despair! Current research also shows you can have a few slip ups along the way and still stay on track. Just make sure you don’t jump off the train all together.

A Daily Dose Make it Easier

When picking what to focus on for change, begin with something you can do daily. Once a week types of habits are harder to grasp and form. Even if it’s something you really only need to do three times per week, begin your journey towards the new you by doing it every day for the first several weeks. Going to the gym, for instance—even if you’re only there to hit the treadmills for 15 minutes, make sure you go. Every. Day.

Tiny Habits Lend Big Rewards

One mistake people make that often leads to failure is choosing a scattered focus. They pick some huge goal with several moving pieces, become frustrated almost immediately, and give up, puzzled as to why they never accomplish any progress. Example: Instead of proclaiming 2019 as the year to tackle your entire jumbled mess of an inbox, set a goal of responding to each new email within three hours and moving it into its appropriate folder once it’s been dealt with. This is a much more attainable goal than a total system overhaul, and—bonus!—will help set you up for success on down the road.

Cues to Success

Part of the psychology of habits is that, as humans, we respond nicely to cues. Pick a way to remind yourself of the habit you want to enforce. If your goal is to go to the gym every day, start carrying your gym bag to work, and put it in an easy to see spot in your office, near your keys. That way when you leave, you’ll have the visual cue for your next stop.

Remove the Temptations

To whatever extent you’re able, get rid of whatever stands between you and your goal. Sometimes this is as easy as not buying sweets, sometimes it may involve a considerable amount of creativity. Ultimately, you want to organize your world in a way that leads you to success rather than failure. Adding “but” phrases to your mental repertoire can be handy too. For example: I’d love to go out for a drink after work, but I am committed to working out.

Pick a Partner

Life is easier with a friend along for the ride. If you share common goals with someone, enlist them as your accountability partner (we like to call them accountabilibuddies). Make sure they’re up to the task, though—some of them can be sneaky enablers, offering to skip the workout and meet you for donuts, instead. If that’s the case, you may be better off going solo. Ideally, a partner will be someone who not only makes the task enjoyable, but encourages you to do what it takes day after day until suddenly it becomes simple.

We hope these tips have given you inspiration and renewed your zest for your resolutions. Whether you’re adding habits to enhance your work or personal life or deleting habits that have kept you bogged down, you’ve got this. With focus and patience, we know you can make it work. Good luck, and here’s to 2019!