I have 12 New Years’ resolutions. It's so tempting to try to do them all at once. But no!! This is not how our brains were designed.
At the beginning of each year we make promises to ourselves about the changes we’ll make. We continue to do this in spite of the fact that these changes rarely take place. All that seems to happen is we keep feeling bad about our perceived failures.
The reality is that by choosing multiple New Years’ resolutions, we set ourselves up to fail.
The good news is we now know what works: how to actually stick to a resolution. Neuroscience tells us that our brains can only incorporate one new habit at a time. It turns out the key to successful change is to ‘do’ a habit consistently for 21 - 28 days for it to stick. The critical part is to focus on one habit at a time.
So, this year I am attaching 1 resolution to each month, because that is how our brains are designed.
1 habit a month. No more!
I started the first resolution this week: for the next 30 days I am adding 3 x 25 minute movement sessions per week, which is a home program to get me stronger and more agile. I'd prefer to just do yoga and surfing, but I have been educated by Ross from RossFit that cross training will take those things to the next level.
This will also help me to stay pain free for as many decades as possible, and get me ready for the Career Change on the Camino trek in May.
Are you going to join me on the Camino (you can come along and just walk if you don't want to do the career change component), or with a vitality resolution for the next 30 days?
I've compiled everything I’ve learnt about successful formation into my Guilt Free Living Planner & Habit Change Tracker.
I know this formula works, as I’m reminded whenever I don’t follow it! When I do follow it, I implement new habits or resolutions with ease. When I don't, it all falls over after 3 - 5 days.
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So now it’s your turn
What’s the first habit you are going to change or replace?
Great, now let’s run through the 7-step formula:
- Choose 1 habit every 21 – 28 days only
- Trigger/cue – pick something that will provide a cue to you and your brain to start the habit for the day (e.g. a reminder on your phone)
- Make it as easy as possible (think of what will get in the way of you doing your new habit and what you can do to overcome that barrier)
- Do the new habit
- Reward yourself – pick something that you would look forward to doing/having. Meeting up with friends, having an endorphin hit that carries you through the day, piece of chocolate.
- Tell someone about it - choose someone to update. Social accountability means we are 30% more likely to do what we say we are going to do.
- Reflect/evaluate. If you did the habit less than 21 days in a row, you’re in good company, simply repeat for the next 21 days to allow it to be cemented as a habit in your brain. If you did repeat the habit for 21 days - impressive – you can choose your next one.
Share in the comments what your habit for the month is going to be. I'd love to hear from you.
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