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How To Get An Early Mark On New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the perfect time to set and prepare for your goals for 2020. 

“But shouldn’t I just wait for New Year’s Eve?” you may ask. No! While January 1st may feel like a fresh page in a new book, without some planning and preparation to support you in your pursuits, there’s a good chance you won’t follow through. In fact, 90% of people who set new year’s resolutions fail. Over a couple of drinks, it’s easy to declare your intention to lose weight, increase your fitness, change career, improve relationships and make more money. But without a plan on how you will follow through, you launch into the new year with little chance for success. 

new year's resolutions

Why do new year’s resolutions fail?

Fitness app Strava recorded over 100 million activities in 2018. Their data shows that efforts significantly drop from January 17 each year. Fast forward the clock from New Year’s Eve to the third week of January and most people have either failed to put their goals into action or have discarded them entirely.

Why is this? With so much good intention, why is it that as a community we are more unhealthy, stressed and unhappy than ever before?

People struggle to close the gap from good intentions to permanent action. In a nutshell, good intentions feel hard. I may want to be the person that makes a salad sandwich for lunch, however the ease of a sausage roll from the bakery when I’m feeling time poor and in need of a “treat” is a much simpler option. When we are tired our willpower reserves are depleted and we are less likely to make the healthier, seemingly “harder” choices. 

On average, we make between 30,000–40,000 decisions every day. For our brains to cope with this huge load of thinking we shortcut some decisions into habits. These habits are repeated on autopilot and account for approximately 40% of our day. 

So how can your habits help you achieve your new year’s resolutions? By using a simple life hack that can help turn your good intention into permanent behaviour. 

A strategy for success

success, new year's resolutions

It’s called the “When/Then” strategy and it works because as humans we respond on autopilot to triggers. 

For example:

When you get in your car then you put on your seatbelt.

When you’re ready to leave the house then you brush your teeth.

So, the secret bullet of creating new habits is to associate your good intention with an already existing habit. 

Here’s how to do it in 5 easy steps:

  1. Identify the habit
  2. Why is the habit important?
  3. Why am I currently not doing it?
  4. What is the behaviour I can link it to?
  5. What is the When/Then?
The 5 stepsExample
Identify the habitTaking a multivitamin
Why is the habit important?It will benefit my health
Why am I currently not doing it?I forget
What is the behaviour I can link it to?Having a cup of tea in the morning
What is the When/Then?When I turn on the kettle, then I will take my multivitamin.

By stating your intention aloud as a When/Then you generally increase the likelihood of changing your behaviour by 2–3 times. Use it as a simple tool to find your trigger for success. Once you start to look for triggers, you’ll see them pop up throughout your day. And once you know what you want to change, having a trigger will set you on the path to action.

Remember, you will not always be motivated, so you have to learn discipline – and you will not always have discipline, so you need to create habits!

The Carousel would like to thank Dr Joan Lukins for her article.

About the author

Dr Jo Lukins is a psychological Indiana Jones who spends her day inside the heads of individuals, teams, and organisations seeking to understand what makes them tick and to achieve their best.  She holds a PhD in Psychology and has been acknowledged as an expert in her field, awarded an Outstanding Alumni by her alma mater. Her first book, The Elite: Think like an athlete, succeed like a champion translates the lessons of elite athlete thinking for the every person.

Written by TheCarousel

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