Why resolutions fail
It never fails.
Or, maybe I should say… it fails a lot.
We’re two weeks into the new year and for the majority of people, those good-intentioned new year’s resolutions have fallen apart.
We meant well. We know what we had to do. What happened?
Let’s dig in a little. And see if we can’t get back on track, if we’re off course.
A lot of resolutions have to do with making a new habit, or changing an existing one.
Like eating healthier, getting more exercise, putting down your phone.
A habit is a conditioned response. It’s automatic. You head off to work and stop at the coffee shop. You get home and plop down in front of the TV.
Some habits are good. Some not so much. But you already have hundreds of habits in your life, and you probably don’t even remember how they got started. So creating a new one can’t be that hard.
Or you wouldn’t have so many!
To create a new habit is typically a 3 step process:
1. Pick a small action. “Exercise more” isn’t small. “Eat healthier” the same. This is a major reason why resolutions don’t work. To start a new habit, you need to start small and build. Instead of “get more exercise” try “take the stairs instead of the elevator.” Instead of “eat healthier” try “have a smoothie for breakfast.”
2. It works best if you attach your new small action to a previous habit. If you already go for a walk 3 times a week, adding 5-10 minutes to that walk connects a new habit with an existing one. Your stimulus (going for a walk) has a new response (walk a bit longer). Your existing habit of entering the kitchen each morning can trigger getting your smoothie together. Especially if your blender is set out and visible.
3. The first week of your new habit has to be EASY. You’re trying to establish a new, conditioned response. You need to practice it. It takes 3-7 times for anything to really take hold. And to make it take hold, it helps if it’s easy at first. Set the blender out and have your smoothie ingredients prepped the night before. Put a note on your car keys that says “take the stairs today.”
If you practice these steps, and keep at it, things begin to take root.
I’ll let you in on a little secret too. A “new year's resolution” is just a trigger. You can make a change – and make it stick – anytime, anywhere.
And you can start again, right now.
Just keep it small, make it manageable – and commit.