How To Turn Your New Year Resolutions Into Life Long Habits
Around this time of year, resolutions are being enacted all across the world. But the thing with resolutions is, most of the time, adherence is almost non-existent. According to statistics in the UK, on average, only 25% of people who make resolutions stick to them, and of those, only around 50% stick to them long term. And with most of these being health and fitness related, we want to help people get happier and healthier.
The main reason people don’t tend to stick to resolutions is because they are perceived to be short term, and are often too big to overcome. We need to reframe resolutions to be more manageable and to become habits. For our brains to create pathways for habits, an activity needs to be repeated consistently. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic & Timely) goal setting is a great way of creating habits as you break down your goals into small sections you can apply to the stages of a habit.
Habits have four stages – The Cue, The Craving, The Response & The Reward. To make good habits from these stages, we can use SMART goal setting to get a set of tools ready to move toward creating a habit. We need to breakdown each facet of the goal into small sections that provide an easily ascertainable reward to incentivise adherence. There’s a lot of literature on this, and a large rabbit hole you can follow so I’ve just listed a few references at the end of this article for you to look at.
Don’t aim too high when creating your habits; lower level goals and rewarding often is key. This just provides added incentive to keep going step by step.
In order to build good habits, sometimes you might need to cut something out of your life; whether it’s something food related, an excessive behaviour, cutting down on alcohol or stopping smoking, a sacrifice may be required to get you there and that’s ok. It will be a difficult process, but again, start small and build up. Be kind to yourself and appreciate that things aren’t always easy. Keep reflecting on what it is that makes you happy, and what you need that helps you be the best version of yourself. If you want to do this in conjunction with your training, always remember that exercise is a time for you where you are fully focused on yourself. It becomes meditative as you can empty your mind and just focus on form and repetition.
Also make sure to take stock and look back at what you have already achieved to help spur you on. Reflection is often missed in the business of daily life, and it’s a great practice, if only to tell yourself that you’ve done things already and can do them again. Reflection also helps when it comes to adjusting your process of creating habits going forward as we learn from our mistakes. Self-understanding is gained from this process and with that understanding, we can take the right steps to move forward. It’s also a lovely thing, getting to know oneself – I remember the first time I went through my goal setting and it made me ask some really difficult questions that I hadn’t really asked before, and I came out the more self-assured for doing so.
Everyone is different, but I would recommend putting your goals down in writing to make them less abstract. More as a physical thing than just a simple concept. Keep up with checklists, daily tasks or a planner. I’m a big fan of ticking things of lists. Having things in writing where I can see it all the time help me to feel accountable to myself, and sometimes we all need that extra push to help us along.
In summary, repetition of short attainable goals that are levelled up slowly over time is how to create sustainable habits and behaviours, whether it’s striving for something positive or for getting rid of something negative.
To show us how you’re getting on, tag us on Instagram so we can follow your progress in kicking those out resolutions and bringing in those habits!!