With January well underway, and the holiday season officially over, it’s back to reality. Implementing new, daily habits to successfully see through our New Year’s Resolutions begin to sink in.
Every year around this time, the New Year brings with it a renewed sense of hope and optimism. And every year, a lot of those same resolutions can quickly take a backseat as January kicks in full-force. We seem to feel a slow, building, sense of bewilderment towards the easy return of our more comfortable routines and rituals.
Turns out, there’s a scientific explanation for this.
Research shows the best way to actually achieve your goals has more to do with your daily habits than anything else. Making small, manageable changes to your daily routine were more effective in the long-term compared to a punitive overhaul.
While setting resolutions for the year is always a positive and productive way to identify actionable steps towards a goal, studies indicate that it will take approximately 66 days before a new habit is fully adopted.
However, if you’re planning to make 2019 one of your most successful years yet, fear not. Here’s how to make it happen.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Focus on the small changes you can make now.
So many of us tend to make long laundry lists full of bad habits we hope to break or change without considering the small, daily actions it will take to approach our habit differently. If you’re hoping to lose weight, save more money, double your revenue — those are all end-goals that will require considerable small efforts.
When we focus too much on the big-picture, and not enough on what we can do today to work towards it, we end up overwhelming ourselves, feeling frustrated and not taking any action at all.
Start practicing habit-interruption
As part of looking at our daily habits in order to effectively take steps towards achieving our big-idea goals, we need to develop the self-awareness and skills to “habit-interrupt.”
When we feel we’ve already indulged or committed the crime towards our bad habit, we end up writing off the entire activity or day telling ourselves, “we’ll start fresh again tomorrow.” We tend to have this urge to “complete” something (even our bad habits) in its entirety versus “habit-interrupting” and use that very next moment as a fresh beginning.
Habit interruption means stopping yourself halfway through eating the box of cookies, actively assessing your performance during your work presentation, or taking a breather when you get frustrated with a colleague or staff member.
In short, it’s developing a stronger sense of self-awareness around our automatic-responses.
Adopt a goals-with-intention approach
Goals are fantastic ways for us to get clear on where we want to go, help to provide structure, motivate us and lend meaning and purpose to our actions.
However, there’s a difference when we approach our goals with intention.
Intention allows us to be clear on the “big-idea” while staying grounded in meaning to a greater purpose.
Achieving your goals require us to stay present and self-aware, and when we approach our daily actions with intention, we’re connected to something more than simply the attainment of the task.
One study finds, when our future rewards are balanced with immediate satisfaction, we’re more likely to stick to our goal for the long-term.
Think about how you could potentially incorporate a balance of instant (and delayed) gratification that remains rooted in intention. Generally, this is about enjoying the process rather than the end-result.
Remaining focused on the process and our small, daily intentions or habits helps us to avoid feeling too overwhelmed on that big-idea long term goal.
When we’re able to break down our goals into small, manageable habit changes we’re able to structure our day around the collective movement towards gradual and incremental growth.
At the end of the day, your goals are meant to serve as guiding signposts. There are lessons to be learnt along the way, and self-development to be discovered.
We are all drawn to the promise of a fresh start and the new beginning that January offers. Approaching your goals from a more centered, holistic and manageable place will put you on a much better path to seeing true achievement.