Habits; how to help maintain new year’s resolutions beyond January?

New Year, New Me……..Right? I wonder how many people have found themselves saying that over the past week or so? How many of us start the new year with all the best intentions to lose weight, get fit, stop watching so much TV, get up earlier…., yet fail within weeks, if not days and go back to our old ways?

If this is you, don’t worry, you’re not alone, according to studies approximately 80% of people’s new year’s resolutions fail within the first month! I’ve been wondering if this year might be different due to the affects of the Pandemic, specifically the amount of time and focus have had to focus on 2021 being a better year. Lets face it 2020 set the benchmark pretty low!

In coaching, the key principle of which is managing ‘change’, we find ourselves encouraging clients to look at the reasons why the previous attempts to change a certain part of their lives may have failed. One of the reoccurring patterns I see, and have experienced personally is the struggle to adopt new habits.

In order for change to be truly effective, habit forming must be properly addressed. For example, if you’re like me, and would like to get up earlier, yet most know of us know that simply setting your alarm earlier isn’t going to be route to success! Unless you’ve got a stronger willpower than me, most of us will know that we will set the alarm, it goes off, you snooze it (usually at least a couple times), then before you know it’s 30 minutes later and you get annoyed that you’re running behind!

So what can we do to try and ensure this new routine of getting up earlier actually becomes a habit, just the norm, in which you don’t need to think about it being a ‘thing’ anymore?

Well, sadly there’s no fixed rule, or set of guidance as everyone is different, but if you look at making small changes around the issue, you may start to see some results. This same principle can applied to most elements of change, but for now I’ll just focus rising earlier!

I’ve listed a few questions that may be useful to ask yourself, but just remember habits take time to form, so maintain the focus on the long goal, and remember the short term pleasure may not always be helpful to achieve your long term goal. (i.e Snoozing the alarm and staying under the duvet for an extra 20 minutes might not help you in achieving your longer term goal, whether that’s reducing your stress in the morning, making time for exercise, or perhaps quality time to work on new projects)

  • What are the reasons for snoozing your alarm? If you’re tired, how much sleep do you personally need a night – why aren’t you currently getting this?
  • What is your current quality of sleep like? How could it be improved to make you less likely to sleep in? How does your bedroom promote quality sleep for the sufficient amount of time you need?
  • What is your current bed time routine? What would happen if you went to bed 30 minutes earlier for example?
  • Where is your alarm? What is the most effective place which might prevent pressing snooze? What impact might moving it to this place have?
  • What other factors might help you get out of bed when the alarm goes off?
  • What do you look forward each day? If you don’t know, it may be a good exercise to keep a note of what you enjoyed each day.
  • What are your goals for the time you have gained back by getting up early? What do you hope to achieve? How can you measure this? How will you reward yourself?
  • What support do you have to cheer you on through this change? After all moral support and encouragement is something we could all do with when trying to make changes for the better

You may be thinking, this is all very well, but how does this work for me, as this example is completely different to my new new year’s resolution/change I’m wanting to make? To that I would say, whatever change you are hoping to make, look around at the influencing factors that may make or break this from becoming a positive habit. Consider your motivators for change and be kind to yourself, after all Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Many people, myself included have been known to set unrealistic goals, that are focused on what I thought I should be doing, rather than what I wanted to do. Ask yourself, how closely aligned is your goal to your values/believes. An example I could give here, is running! I love to run, it’s become part of my life, a healthy habit and one I’d be lost without. Running regularly supports my belief to look after my mind and my body, so it’s reflects my values. All of this is is great for me, but that does’t mean I think everyone should start running. Finding a way of moving that suits you, that you will love, will be a lot more enjoyable and therefore sustainable. This doesn’t need to involve going to the gym (when they re-open again), nor does it mean investing in loads of gear, you just need to find a way to incorporate more movement in your life. If you’re not sure, here’s just a few ideas to get you started!

As for me, I’ve started to make some changes of my own, starting with getting up earlier, which I hope will give me time for some personal projects I’m working on. If you’re struggling for motivation and direction at the moment, I’d highly recommend listening to The Power Hour pod casts by Adrienne Herbert. I’ve just read her book, which really struck a cord with me. I will keep you posted on how I get on with my 6am starts, but in the mean time I’m wishing you all a Happy New Year. x

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