Many of us, as discussed last week, often set intentions or resolutions to improve life in some manner Just this week, I had a discussion with a client who was already failing in the resolutions for this year and felt quite disheartened.
Why do so many New Year’s resolutions fail?
While we could weave many a complex theory on this issue, let’s keep it simple: resolutions are about habit change, and changing habits is tough. Real tough. It’s so easy to babble a few words, in a moment of heightened excitement, and think we have made a resolution. Yet, life tells us that won’t do it.
Even the language seems to suggest something easier than habit change. It’s as if ‘just because’ I set the resolution, change will happen. There is a deception in this process that sets us up for failure.
Of course, when we fail to keep our resolution, we use this failure to reap more negative self-talk upon ourselves. In simple terms, we beat ourselves up some more. And this, of course, only compounds the entrenchment in the negative habits we want to change. When we do this repeatedly in our lives, it’s important to take a different approach, as real change is possible.
Let’s Change the Formula
1. IF you are ready, decide now: One Habit Change
First and foremost, declare this as a habit change, and then choose only one habit to address. Don’t pick multiple goals, as this will surely seal your destiny. Then, if you are at all serious, do it now. Delays are only excuses to not be serious. A true decision to change will show itself by your willingness to act immediately.
2. Let the world know about it.
Tell the world that this is your new habit, and invite everyone in your circle to ‘check in’ on your status. The more public, the more likely you will follow though.
3. Remove ALL distractions from holding the course
In your environment, remove any temptations or external cues for old patterns. This is critical, and is the ultimate test of your seriousness. If you fail to do this, simply know you are not ready (yet). Examples include:
- For losing weight – remove all the junk food from your home today.
- For money management – close out online accounts from your favorite stores and start a savings plan.
- For excess TV/video – cut cable and get rid of the games that pull you in.
- For reducing alcohol – gift away that wine and keep it out of your home.
These are only a few examples, but the removal of these temptations will immediately tell you (and others) if you are serious about changing your habit. If you delay or procrastinate on these, it’s not likely you are serious about change.
4. The ‘Secret Juice’ to ensure your success: Predetermine Decisions.
It’s easy to do well when we’re feeling inspired, positive and on our ‘A’ game. Yet, this state of mind never lasts. Inevitably, we will have a tough day, or an even tougher week, and our willpower fades. Then, it all falls apart.
So, instead of relying upon willpower in those weaker moments, be prepared. Think of these moments in advance, and arm yourself with pre-determined decisions. How do we do that?
- For exercise – find a buddy who meets you every morning for a walk, rain or shine.
- For spending less – set limits on your credit cards, and only carry one card at all times.
- For saving – pay your savings account automatically before you ever see it.
- For learning something new – tape a sign to your computer screen to stop you from surfing.
In essence, it will serve you well to pre-determine how to ‘install’ the new habit so it’s right in front of you, and you must jump over it to avoid follow-though.
In next week’s article, I will follow-up with a few more pointers to complete this process, and perhaps more importantly, to remind you that it is never to late to start a change for the better. Until then, let’s get started. Today!