It's that time of year again when we all make a good intentioned list of the things that we want to change about ourselves... Full disclosure: Do you know what has been on the top of my list for years? To stop biting my nails! But, I've found out a secret about New Years Resolutions... they don't usually work.
It's not because we are lazy or unmotivated, but most of us don't have the tools to sustain long term habit change. A lot of my clients have heard me rave about James Clear's Book: Atomic Habits. That rejuvenated, New Years feeling can be EVERY.DAY. If you'd like it to be!
He describes the four stages of habit formation as noticing, wanting, doing and liking.
Noticing. Recognizing the patterns that you have fallen into, noticing how they have affected your ability to implement the habit or task and making a plan for how to accomplish your goal. One of Clear's recommendations is to imagine yourself six months from now not having accomplished your goal and tell the story of what stood in your way... from that description, you can build a plan around how to best achieve success.
Wanting. Do you want to change? If so, you'll need to set your environment up for success. What can you change within your environment to make it positive and easier to accomplish your goals? If one of your resolutions is to read more, can you put the book on your pillow in the morning so that when you return to bed it's there? If your resolution is to always take your vitamins, can you put them next to your toothbrush and "stack" the habits of toothbrushing and vitamin taking together? Tell yourself when you're going to do your thing. "After I brush my teeth, I take my vitamins."
Doing. "Shut up and put your reps in. Hone the skill." Work toward repeating this behavior as many times as possible and rewarding yourself with liking.
Liking. What do you like about the goal your achieving? Can you check this off on a calendar everyday? Measuring progress creates the ability for you to gift yourself a reward. Is it creating meaningful change for you over time or replacing a bad habit (nail biting, procrastinating, leaving wet laundry in the washer?!) with a good habit (drinking water, working out)? How can you reward yourself in the moment?
Big changes can happen within the context of little changes over time. They require a belief in yourself, a mindset shift in your identity and putting in the work day after day. Creating atomic habits and gaining little wins each day build up to huge changes. So, start now... unless you are waiting for that new wall calendar to start checking off dates. :)
Have you had success with New Year's Resolutions? I'd love to hear!