New Year resolutions
We are still talking about changing habits and sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.
In our first blog in this series, we looked at why resolutions fail. Then, we discussed how you could try and stick to your new resolves. Today we introduce you to the 66-days-to-create a habit idea.
Just show up
The AA has an informal rule. They say you must go to 90 AA meetings in 90 days to cement your resolve to stop using alcohol. Recovery takes discipline, and the first step is showing up – day after day after day.
Venus and Serena Williams woke up early and practiced every day before leaving for school. We all know about their success, but it took discipline and hard work to keep their good habits in place.
Habit-forming takes time
In 2009, the European Journal of Social Psychology published a study that found that it took 18 to 254 days for a person to develop a new habit. They concluded that on average, most people need 66 days so that their new behavior can become automatic.
The timeframe depends on the habit and the person.
You’d have to agree: it will be much easier to try and drink a glass of water before breakfast than doing 50 sit-ups. It would help if you were realistic about your expectations.
The 50 sit-ups habit-before-breakfast will probably take you between two to eight months to achieve, depending on your personality and resolve.
(Interestingly, the researchers found that it does not matter if you mess up now and then. The habit can still be formed. You must just keep on going – one day at a time and not letting your mistakes derail you.)
Don't let this depress you.
It is actually good news!
- You can stop being so hard on yourself. A good habit is supposed to take more than a few weeks to achieve. Accept and embrace the fact that your new good practice might take 66 days or, perhaps, 200 days. Manage your expectations.
- Permit yourself to make mistakes.It is standard in the process of habit-forming and will not have an impact on the long-term. Develop strategies to get back on track as soon as you find yourself straying.
- It is a process. Nobody said it would be easy to change your life for the better. You have to commit to long-term resilience. Don’t try to change all at once. Do it – one step at a time.
The process of habit-forming
- The honeymoon phase:At first, you’ll feel ‘this is not too bad.’ You were inspired to make positive changes by the change into the new year or by a motivational speaker. You know what it was. Unfortunately, at some point, the honeymoon will end. Expect that it is going to happen!
- Fighting through the fog:Your old habits is beaconing. It is getting harder to keep your resolve. Reality is setting in. It is not easy building a new pattern! Now is the time to speak loudly to yourself.
Why are you doing this? What is your motivation? How would you feel if you give up now? Where will you be in five years if you don't keep your resolution or form the new habit?
- A new habit?It might take two or three fogs to keep on going. You will be disrupted, and you will get discouraged at times. Who has never struggled to start exercising again after a wonderful holiday?
It might take 50 days. It might take 211. One crucial aspect stays the same: you must put in the work and keep at it. The only way to get there is to start with Day 1.
Good habits are formed daily, and it takes commitment. Commit to fight through the fog and keep at it! You'll be so glad that you did.