With a new year comes the anticipated “New Year’s Resolution” list that we drudgingly or excitedly make for ourselves to set established goals. You may be someone who successfully sticks to most of the resolutions you set out for yourself. However, the majority of Americans have a hard time maintaining these new habits for a more than a short period of time.
What if you were told that your inability to achieve these goals has nothing to do with willpower or the difficulty of the goals themselves, but rather your perspective towards habit formation? Often, individuals are so fixated on the end goal that it becomes almost impossible to form the habits that will help them arrive there. Here is a guide to help you successfully stick to your New Year’s Resolution list by focusing on new habit formation. Using this strategy, you can head into the new year with confidence. All ideas have been adapted from author James Clear.
1. Big Habits Start Small
One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to drastically change habits overnight. This might be sustainable for some time, but it typically does not produce successful results in the long run. To form a new habit, you need to focus on consistency. Set a time and day when you will carry out this habit each time. Start with a habit so small that you need minimal motivation to complete it. Eventually, you can increase this habit to a higher degree.
2. Increase Your Habit in Increments
After you have established a baseline habit, gradually turn it up a notch. You can increase daily or weekly, depending on the habit schedule. This will help you maintain momentum and keep pushing towards your goal. Over time, these small changes will lead to drastic results.
3. Don’t Give Up If You Fall Off Track
If you mess up once, you may be inclined to toss in the towel and deem yourself a “failure.” The reality is that with any goal, you are likely to get off track at least once or another. Don’t let this get to your head. The key is not maintaining a perfect record, but getting back on track every time you mess up.
Each time you fail to carry out the habit, use this as an opportunity to reflect on why you lost control. James Clear has a rule for this situation, “Never miss twice.”
You may find it useful to have a calendar and mark it green for every time you performed the habit and red for each time you missed. This will provide a visual and grant immediate gratification for a long-term goal.
Setting new resolutions can be overwhelming if you focus on the end goal without forming a plan for how to get there. After creating specific habits to help you complete a goal, break down these habits even further. Start with a small habit and gradually increase it to where you want it to be. Don’t give up as soon as you make a mistake. This is one of the most crucial actions for maintaining good habits.
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