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Why new habits are better than New Year’s Resolutions
Come 1st January, all we hear about is people’s new resolutions, and the innate pressure from society to make brand new goals of our own. Whilst it is always great to set yourself new challenges, if we set ourselves unrealistic resolutions, it can make us feel like a failure as soon as we’ve started. Not to mention, the proportion of us that actually stick to new years resolutions is pretty slim. In fact, it has been reported that 77% of us will only stick to new years resolutions for a week, and only 8% of us will eventually achieve said resolution in the year… if ever!
So with that in mind, how should we be setting goals for the New Year? Broadly speaking, the most common forms of new years resolutions revolve around getting healthy, fitter, saving money or generally living life ‘fuller’. Whilst these are all really important goals, setting them as large style resolutions isn’t necessarily the path to success. We suggest thinking about making new habits the New Year, rather than resolutions. New habits suggest a change in routine, but without a huge, overwhelming and unachievable goal stretching in front of you. We think starting small and building up to change is one of the best ways to achieve your goal for 2020 – and here’s how you can do it.
Start from where you are
Starting from where you are right now is important in making your new habit achievable and therefore successful. For example, if your new years resolution would be ‘get fitter’ – think about what your current fitness regime is right now. Perhaps its walking 10k steps a day, perhaps it’s running 5k once a week or perhaps it’s doing two classes a week – or it might be exercising once a month. Whatever it is, write down exactly were you are right now and consider how you can reach your fitness goal in a manageable way.
Similarly if your new habit is to save more money, or eat more fruits and vegetables, take time to write down how much money you do already save or how many vegetables you do already eat. Seeing it in front of you on paper will give you a strong sense of your starting point, and therefore a better idea of how to reach your goal through making a new habit.
Think small and manageable
Once you have an idea of your starting point, make sure you think small and manageable. Making a new habit is about incorporating a very small change into your lifestyle and sticking with it, so it’s really important to make sure it’s not unmanageable. Using the exercise example, perhaps you want to get your steps up everyday. So an easy new habit could be walking part of your commute, or leaving the car/getting off the train/bus earlier everyday. It could be going to one new exercise class a week or starting Coach to 5k. It is essential when you are considering making new habits that you keep them small. This is absolutely the way to achieve your goal – rather than a vague resolution where you say ‘I’ll go to the gym 5 times a week’… when you know the reality is that is unachievable.
To look at another example, if you want to save some money, look at putting a small amount aside to start with and then see how you go, and potentially build it up. If you want to start eating more fruit and vegetables, build it up day on day. The key to success is feasibility – its slow and steady wins the race.
Have fun with it
Make sure you enjoy it! No new habit will become a permanent habit if you don’t have fun with it. Whatever your new habit is, there is absolutely room to enjoy it. If it’s exercise, do something you know you will enjoy (literally no pointing in setting yourself a running goal if you hate running – or if you do set a running goal, take a friend or music to make it enjoyable!) If it’s saving money, create yourself some kind of reward chart or system to see your savings grow. Or if it’s fruit and vegetables, try something different every week. The options are endless – but the most important thing is that you have FUN! If it’s not enjoyable, you won’t stick with it and your goal will slip away.
Create space to rest and recover
In keeping with the enjoyment of your new habit and keeping it small and manageable, it’s important to also give yourself breathing space. With this, we mean the ability to make mistakes, time for recovery and not beating yourself up if you didn’t make the small change you said you would as consistently as you planned. Life takes over sometimes, and that means a new habit could be halted or interrupted at some points and that is ok! Giving yourself space to get used to your new habit is really crucial for success. So you missed an exercise class because you had to work late, or your washing machine broke so you couldn’t save that month – that’s ok! Life happens and having time to rest and recover is essential.
Celebrate success with a treat
We are all motivated by things we like and enjoy, so what better way to get used to your new habit than to reward yourself when it goes well? Set yourself a reward a few weeks or months into your new habit to ensure you stick with it as best you can, and ultimately give you something to look forward to.
For more super easy tips on making new habits, read our 9 steps here.