Wow, I can’t believe its 2018 already! Who made their annual New Year’s Resolutions? Resolutions can be life changing if you create a plan on how you want to reach them. There are lots of books and articles on ways to help make sure you identify the right resolutions to improve your life and not set yourself up for failure. You should start by making SMART goals. This is something I learned about in leadership training I did a few years back and then came across in a few articles before writing this post. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. After you identify your goals you will want to create a plan. It would be great if we could just write them down and then the next day it’s a new lifelong habit, but it’s not that simple.
As I discussed in a past blog post “The Power of Habit” a habit requires three parts; a cue, a routine and a reward. Here is an example from an article in the New York times; Habit: I Smoke, Routine: Smoke a cigarette, Reward: I’m stimulated. A way to change the behavior: Instead of smoking a cigarette, replace stimulus with something else, like coffee (1). Your resolution should be personal, you need to figure out what the cue for your habit is. For example, if you want to start exercising more put on your workout clothes and shoes and start walking around the block or going straight to the gym before or after work. Reward could be to enjoy a small piece of chocolate, eventually your reward can become a personal feeling of being more energized daily. I have always been active but needed to start working out routinely. I started back in 2009 going to the gym three nights a week, straight from work. Then in 2012 I started going in the morning, that was not an easy task but It felt great to get my workout done in the morning. My reward was not having to think about it for the rest of the day, being home for dinner with my family and having energy all day. Now in 2018 I still make working out daily and eating a balanced diet one of my resolutions as a reminder of a goal that is important to me. Remember, no matter how good your plan is, change is hard and you’re going against yourself. It’s important to create a step-by step process on how to manage your plan. Focus on the small steps and what you have accomplished not what you have left. Finally, remember to be flexible, you’re not going to accomplish your goal 1st try, you will probably slip a few times. If you slip that is ok, use it as a learning opportunity and start again the next day. If you keep slipping don’t blame yourself, stop and think about what keeps triggering the slip and try to change that cue and habit.
So, make your SMART Goals and be part of the 50% that succeed! You won’t fail if you try and try again until you accomplish your goal. Charles Duhigg the author of “The Power of Habit” said that “Belief is a metaphorical muscle that with practice gets strong and easier to use” (1). If you have not read or listened to Duhigg’s book, I would strongly recommend it. Good Luck with your 2018 resolutions!
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg