…5 things that do work
The Christmas holidays are a great time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. At this time of year, many people are focused on what they want to change in their lives. It’s a great opportunity because everybody and everything slows down.
According to a recent survey by YouGov in the UK, the most common New Year’s resolutions for Brits in 2019 were:
- More exercise / improving fitness – 47%
- Losing weight – 44%
- Improving diet – 41%
- Saving more money – 31%
- Taking up a new hobby – 18%
I did a quick google search to try and identify if there are any statistics around how long New Year’s Resolutions last and the results are pretty mixed:
- Strava is an exercise tracking app and in the UK, they started to see people quitting on the 12th January
- The US. News & World Report state that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February
The actual date doesn’t matter – there is no doubt that we have all experienced situations where we start with the best of intentions and slowly but surely the new change that we crave starts to slip away from us. This leaves us disappointed, frustrated and self-critical.
New Years’ Resolutions don’t work – they never have and never will
They are fundamentally flawed, and I bet you don’t know of many people who has transformed their lives based on a New Year’s resolution.
So, what does work? …
Plan your goals in 90-day cycles
90 days is a long enough timeframe to build your habits and enables you to set a series of shorter-term goals that can be adjusted every 90 days. A commitment to one whole year can be daunting for some people and for others they will have the tendency to ‘kick the can down the road’ – for example, skipping a gym session or having a chocolate cake knowing that they have months remaining to catch back up.
Get really specific and identify the habits that deliver the outcome
Say you want to lose weight … it’s a pretty common one. However, this isn’t specific enough, the questions to ask yourself are:
- How much do I want to lose in the next 90 days?
- e.g. 18 pounds (6lb a month)
- What are the habits that will help me lose the weight?
- e.g. Walk from train station to the office
- e.g. Follow a ketogenic diet / vegan / paleo (whatever interests you)
- e.g. Do HIIT exercise 3 times per week
- e.g. Intermittent fasting 5 days per week
- e.g. Stop drinking beer for 90 days
- What obstacles might I face and how do I overcome them?
- e.g. I have a party in 4 weeks’ time! – give yourself permission to have the night off
- e.g. I don’t have time to prepare food! – batch cook using a slow cooker
- e.g. I have young children and they want my attention while I am doing a HIIT workout! – include them in the workout & make it a family event.
Create a series of routines
Any new habit is difficult to create unless it’s anchored to an existing routine. The best example is a morning routine which everybody already has in place. You wake up, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, have a shower and have a drink. What else can you tag onto your morning routine to create powerful new habits?
Also think of other routines you have in your day such as:
- Arriving at work
- Lunchtime break
- Arriving home
What habits can you build onto these anchors?
Find somebody who can keep you accountable and keep you on track on your 90-day cycle. Using an App where you can track your habits is ideal, so you can check off your habits and your accountability buddy can keep you on track. If you are skipping your habits, then have a conversation with your accountability buddy on what the obstacles are.
Our willpower is finite and using willpower to get things done (or not done) takes a tremendous amount of energy and when you don’t have the required energy you are most likely to buckle. It is possible to take your energy levels to new heights and therefore give you a strong reserve of will power.