There is something about the NEW YEAR that gets us all excited about the year ahead. It is the one time in the year we are genuinely excited about change. At least from a personal development perspective…yes? At a cerebral level, we know that to achieve goals and create most of the successes we want, we need to make some changes to how we are doing things, running our business and even connecting with people. Hitting our resolution targets often, however, means creating new good habits or culling old bad ones. And this is where sometimes a lot of us get stuck. For when it comes to learning new habits and losing old ones that do not serve us – they all often seem easier said than done.
There are many methods out there on how you can add, delete or modify habits. I certainly did not go cold-turkey and here are 5 things that helped me.
1. Just Decide – and that’s how it all started. I was running a workshop that taught people to create new habits for happiness, and at the end of Day 1, we ask participants to “break social scripts” and report it the next day. This can be anything from doing or saying something that goes “off script” to your normal routine. And people choose things like cooking a meal, sending a Thank You note (or text) or volunteering to pick the kids up from childcare. I like doing things that I ask of my participants – and at one fateful workshop last year, I decided to go 24 hours without sugar.
2. Publicly Declare – With the same class, I declared (with a gulp) that I was going to do this for the next 30 days. I just said it out LOUD and refused to allow myself any time to think about it. Again, with the same workshop as part of the ACTION PLAN participants are invited to commit to one practice or routine they will commit to for the next 21 days. This was mine – so I told family and friends, many of whom good-naturedly laughed in my face. This “declaration” however added the element of accountability. Here’s what else it did, people who knew, and wanted to help me succeed, would and say things to motivate or do little things like remove temptation from me.
3. Support Network– With every class of The Happiness Advantage: The Orange Frog we create a chat group that is “live” for 21 days to support each other on our journey. Everyone commits to taking turns, contributing something motivational on one of the days AND keeping each other posted on progress on habits we have committed to work on. My take on habits is that it requires more than 21 days – hence my 30-day commitment. And I have to say that it took me 90 days to finally say with any conviction that I had truly broken the “craving” barrier. Maybe this is true for very ingrained habits and ones where the “rewards” come before the routine – to know more I recommend Charles Duhigg’s book. “The Power of Habit” where he goes in-depth on the anatomy of a habit.
4. Quick Wins – no habit is too big to take on or cut down. You may, however, have to break it down and make it easier to achieve. Harvard Positive Psychologist, Researcher and author, Shawn Achor, calls this technique Zorro Circles. Here’s how it works – if you have a BIG goal to achieve like Exercising 30 minutes a day, then start by committing to 7-minute workouts for two weeks, then incrementally add minutes every two weeks. As mine was to reduce my “3-Teaspoons of sugar” habit, I started with two teaspoons for the first week; to one teaspoon for the next seven days and zero in the last week I was with the chat group. This strategy worked beautifully. Then, all I had to was just stick with it!
5. Visualise Success – I read somewhere that whilst you need to be disciplined and determined, you will sometimes fall off track. The trick is to just jump back on, as soon as you can. What helped? Keeping in view that sense of achievement I knew I would have – I visualized myself telling people proudly about what I had achieved and how much I had gained in the process. Well actually for me it has been a loss – 5.5 kg loss! My vision is now a reality and I do share my success proudly.
Now that I know how to, and had success with it too, I publicly declare this year as the one I am going to get into the habit of creating new, good habits. Do feel free to support me and hold me accountable. And what about you? What habit(s) could you, your team or your managers acquire this month, for a brighter and better 2020?
This article first appeared on my LinkedIn Profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/roshiniganesan/