Just a quick post relevant to the holidays and the fast approaching New Year.
If you regularly set resolutions, get two weeks into the new year and then break them don’t despair. Set habits instead, and set clever ones. Habits are behaviours that are hard to stop – we all know that. So let’s use them to our advantage. Make them positive habits and they can improve your life dramatically.
And the great thing about positive habits is… they have failure built in to the process.
Let me explain, think of some thing you want to stop. Let’s say smoking (that’s a common one right). Think of the benefit you gain from smoking, maybe you associate it with being sociable, that is, you may smoke when you drink with friends. Or maybe you feel calmer and more able to cope when you smoke. Now think of what other way you could gain that benefit – it won’t work unless you replace the benefit.
Now set a habit around that, for example if smoking makes you calm, think of an alternative, maybe listening to a certain piece of music does the same thing, so, listen to that music every time you want to smoke. Keep that habit up for 3 weeks but here’s where the clever part comes in – allow yourself to smoke some cigarettes each day, reducing by 2 per day or 3 per day (whatever you can cope with). Now, when you smoke 2 cigarettes less than the day before you haven’t failed, you have simply followed the rules of your new habit. Continue aiming for zero cigarettes, without perceiving it as failure if you end up smoking some. After 3 weeks you have begun to set this new habit. Keep it up for 4 months and you will find this new habit harder to stop than continue.
It works the same way with starting something, the usual is the gym. First, decide if you even enjoy the gym. If you don’t, then find another exercise routine that you can enjoy – you must find a benefit in your new behaviour or it simply won’t last. Let’s presume you find your perfect exercise routine, now reward yourself with something healthy each time you do it. You will learn to associate that reward with the exercise. Again, allow yourself some wriggle room. If you decide you want to do it 3 times per week, set it at once a week for the first week, twice for the second and three times by the third. If you don’t manage three time in the third week simply state that the third week was another second week and that next week you’ll do three.
This way, when you don’t do what you have set, you don’t see it as failure and give up but rather you see it as just another step towards your end goal. Twice in a week is still better than none after all.
To recap: set positive, rewardable habits instead of resolutions that include benefits (especially if you are replacing a bad habit) and see every glitch on the way as just part of the process.
Good luck and Happy New Year!
PS: I talk a lot about setting habits in my book and my 90 day program. You can enrol in the program forFree when you buy a book before midnight on 31st Dec 2012 here: click here