STEPS TO MAKE YOUR NEW YEAR RESOLUTION WORK. Making our new year resolution work can be a stockpile of heaviness on one’s neck. Not because they are unachievable or unrealistic, but because we miss out the foundation to lay them on. This piece give you a basic guide on how to make your 2019 resolution work. Study performed by the University of Scranton on January 1, 2013 (yes, New Year’s Day), only 8% of people achieve their resolutions. This leaves a whopping 92% who fall off the wagon at some point between January 1 and December 31. The stats aren’t great and it’s clear that New Year’s resolutions lose their grip on most of us. There’s two main lines of brain and behavior science that influence New Year’s resolutions: The science of habits and the science of self-stories. To create a new habit you have to follow these three steps (based on B.J. Fogg and Charles Duhigg)
- You MUST pick a small action. “Get more exercise” is not small. “Eat healthier” is not small. This is a big reason why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. If it’s a habit and you want a new one it MUST be something really small. For example, instead of “Get more exercise” choose “Walk 1/3 more than I usually do” or “Take the stairs each morning to get to my office, not the elevator”, or “Have a smoothie every morning with kale in it”. These are relatively small actions.
- You MUST attach the new action to a previous habit. Figure out a habit you already have that is well established, for example, if you already go for a brisk walk 3 times a week, then adding on 10 more minutes to the existing walk connects the new habit to an existing one. The existing habit “Go for walk” now becomes the “cue” for the new habit: “Walk 10 more minutes.” Your new “stimulus-response” is Go For Walk (Stimulus) followed by “Add 10 minutes.” Your existing habit of “walk through door at office” can now become the “cue” or stimulus for the new habit of “walk up a flight of stairs.” Your existing habit of “Walk into the kitchen in the morning” can now be the stimulus for the new habit of “Make a kale smoothie.”
- You MUST make the new action EASY to do for at least the first week. Because you are trying to establish a conditioned response, you need to practice the new habit from the existing stimulus from 3 to 7 times before it will “stick” on its own. To help you through this 3 to 7 times phase make it as EASY as possible. Write a note and stick it in your walking shoe that says “Total time today for walk is 30 minutes”. Write a note and put it where you put your keys that says: “Today use the stairs.” Put the kale in the blender and have all your smoothie ingredients ready to go in one spot in the refrigerator.
- Write out your existing story. Pay special attention to anything about the story that goes AGAINST the new resolution you want to adopt. So if your goal is to learn how to unplug and be less stressed, then write out a story that is realistic, that shows that it’s hard for you to de-stress, that you tend to get overly involved in dramas at home or at work.
- Now re-write the story — create a new self-story. Tell the story of the new way of being. Tell the story of the person who appreciates life, and takes time to take care of him/her-self.