Yes folks, the Happy New Year’s (HNY) resolution season is fully upon us, a time for change and creating those new healthy habits you’ve been meaning to do for an age… Social media inundates us with hundreds of posts containing words of wisdom on how to achieve success and make 2020 the year for you. Whilst I love the idea, achieving it with success is a whole different ball game.
I have always been one to embrace other people’s commitment, energy and desire to change, as well as working on my own self-drive. The reality is that all too often HNY resolutions are made as a result of a knee jerk reaction to a little over-indulgence during the holiday period or a moment of reflection on the previous year. Whatever is driving you to change, the success rate of these resolutions continues to remain low and can fizzle out after only a few weeks. The question of why this happens still intrigues me…
For me the conception of the resolution is the easy part – the idea is generally always fresh and full of energy, with motivation in abundance to make the change – which is fine. Some resolutions are also made as a result of peer pressure, or an expectation of how you should act or what you should achieve in the coming year. All of these ingredients can lead to you falling foul of being too optimistic, lacking motivation, trying too hard and generally leading to an unsuccessful outcome.
The challenge I have faced on many occasions is making new habits stick. My own curiosity about stickability, after many failed attempts, has led me to realize the power of routine. ROUTINE continues to be my superpower friend and without doubt the unsung hero of my own behaviour change!
In my personal life and career, having a structured and manageable routine has been one of the most important factors in my development. Not only has it allowed me to hit the goals that I set out to achieve, but it brings balance, satisfaction and growth in so many areas. I guess my background in the military has helped as well, as various fitness and sporting habits have taught me that routine rules over everything, as challenging as it may seem at the time.
I would like to introduce you to an acronym that allows us to explore how a new routine can be created without too much pain and failure.
ROUTINE – 7 letters for 7 days of the week
To create change and establish new patterns, the process of repetition is key to success. I love the term “practise doesn’t always make perfect, but it can create permanence”. Any habit or skill we strive to achieve requires practice over and over again until it becomes an unconscious response. Routine relies so heavily on repetition; therefore aim to make it frequent and similar in practice.
Opportunity is everywhere
This is about seeking out opportunities that are in front of you to help your routine stick. What will aid you in 3 months’ time when the motivation and desire are potentially starting to wane??
The purpose of why you’re doing this needs to remain at the forefront of your new routine, you’ll need to understand the reasons why you chose this “new way of life”. Dig deep to understand the real reasons for wanting to achieve change.
Time always crops us as the most common reason for not achieving goals – the good old “lack of time” still seems to be the easiest excuse in the book. We always seem to be busier doing other things, knowing full well that “procrastination” or avoidance is ruling our lives. The time you set needs to be consistent and of value, so aim to be present in the moment!
The routine needs to be something that gets you out of bed each morning, giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling after you’ve done it, and ultimately wants to leave you wanting more. A solid routine doesn’t have to be mundane, be curious as to how you can make it more interesting and fun. If an activity or structure makes you feel accomplished and good about yourself, you’ll be inspired to continue.
Create norms that become part of you. Strive to subconsciously perform an action in a similar way each time, this helps create a deep-rooted pattern of behaviour that once ingrained is hard to shift. Normality is a good thing as it creates structure, balance and a feeling of security.
Elicit….what are the rewards for putting yourself through this? Visualizing the end goal and using that as motivation might well be the extra edge that pushes you towards sticking with the new routine, instead of going back to your old habits.
Whatever your 2020 goals look like, no matter how well they are mapped out, I encourage you all to take the time to design a solid routine that is bespoke to you. Good luck!