It’s that time of year where you often hear the phrase, “new year, new me.” But have you ever set a new year’s resolution and then struggled to keep it through the year? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent poll, approximately 40 per cent of people make goals for the new year, but only 9 per cent of people stick to them all year long. This article offers some practical tips for setting goals and transforming new behaviours into habits that will last.
First off, ensure the conditions are right. If the current environment is not set up for the desired habit, even the most determined person will struggle. For example, if your goal is to read more, you evidently need to have access to books.
Next, a great way to build a new habit is by piggybacking onto an existing one. For example, if you want to drink more water, drink a cup after brushing your teeth – something you already do. Similarly, you might substitute a new behaviour for an existing habit, like substituting a glass of sparkling water for your usual glass of wine after work.
It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. New behaviours can seem daunting because they are unfamiliar and have to be learned, meaning we have to think about them! If you can make the steps required for achieving your goal simple and minimal, you’ll have more success making it stick.
Practice makes perfect, right? Committing to consistency is key to establishing any new habit. Start by aiming to carry out the new behaviour regularly for at least one month. After this, it should get easier and become more automatic.
Other things to consider are cues and rewards. Cueing (e.g., if X, then do Y) can aid memory and make it more likely that you’ll do the new behaviour. Naturally, rewards help to entice us and motivate us to do the new behaviour again. After all, people change best by feeling good.