The new year is knocking, and “start a healthy lifestyle”, “Start exercising”, “follow a healthy diet”, will once again top the list of new year resolutions. Unfortunately, most of them will fail. Possibly the biggest reason why people fail to accomplish their New Year’s resolutions is that they are not specific enough. “I want to be healthier” or “I want to be more fit” are not specific New Year’s resolutions. People who fail to stick to their resolutions often resent making the decision in the first place.
Here I will give simple tips to help you set the right goals and see them through to completion. The key lies in habit formation. If you succeed at making an action a habit by repeated and consistent efforts, chances are you will achieve your goals.
For example, if you commit to waking up at 6 am and going to the gym at least 3 days a week, you will form the habit in less than three months.
Forming a habit can be a challenging but rewarding process. Here are some tips that may help you develop a new habit:
- Start small: Start a habit that is small and manageable, so it’s easier to stick to, before you move to bigger things. Ex: Instead of saying, “I will leave everything that is unhealthy, say I reduce my tea intake from 3 cups a day to 1 cup a day”. Do this for a month before you gradually move to quitting tea.
- Make it specific: Clearly define the habit and when you will do it. For example, instead of saying, “I will exercise more,” say, “I will go for a 20-minute walk every day at 5pm.”
- Set a reminder: Use a phone reminder, put a note on your fridge, or set a reminder in your calendar to help you remember to perform the habit.
- Track your progress: Keep a journal or use a habit-tracking app to record when you perform the habit. Seeing your progress can be a great motivator.
- Be consistent: Try to perform the habit simultaneously each day, as this can make it easier to remember and become a routine.
- Don’t beat yourself up: It’s normal to slip up or miss a day here and there. Don’t let one mistake derail your progress. Just get back on track as soon as you can.
- Reward yourself: When you achieve a milestone or reach your goal, treat yourself to something special as a reward. This can help to reinforce the positive behavior and make it more likely that you will continue the habit.
- Involve others: Let your family, colleagues, and friends know of your goal and why it is important to you.
- Shift focus away: When tempted to give up, shift your focus away from the temptation. Understand that it is temporary and, in all likelihood, pass in a few minutes.
Remember, it takes time and effort to form a new habit. Be patient with yourself and keep at it, and you will see progress in some time, and it will soon become a part of your life.