New Year’s Solutions
Well, it’s the start of a New Year. As the calendar year turns, most folks reflect on their journey of the previous year or years and resolve to do better in the upcoming year.
Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? Have you done so or tried to in the past? I know that I have tried to set resolutions. Then, I realized what a resolution is. Dictionary.com says that a resolution is a decision or determination; a resolve. That “re-” part of resolution means to do over again and the “solve” comes from the Latin word “solvere” which translates to “loosen, free, or release.” I got to thinking, if resolutions really worked, why would I have to re-solve my problem again in the New Year? Wouldn’t I already be free from my problem? Now, I know that there is value in repetition.
Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
So, let’s take a look at repetition and habits!
Your life today – your successes and failures, possessions and relationships – is the sum of your habits. The choices you’ve made and what you repeatedly do ultimately have formed the person that you are, the possessions that you have acquired, and the principles you live by. So how do you make 2014 better? How do you improve? You form new habits, right? It’s just that simple. Simple – yes; easy – well, not so much.
In this month’s newsletter, you’ll learn three steps to creating new habits. You’ve already used this process/framework to create your current habits:
- Reminder – trigger that initiates the action
- Routine – action you take or the behavior itself
- Reward – value gained from the action or behavior
So, before we get into each step, how does this work? James Clear uses the following example:
- Your phone rings or buzzes (reminder)
- You look at it (routine)
- You find out who is calling or why it buzzed (reward)
If the reward is positive or adds value to you, you’ll want to repeat this same routine the next time the reminder occurs So, how can you use this process to create new habits? You can’t just expect to magically stick to a new habit without setting up a process that makes it easy to start and act..
It’s as easy as 1-2-3
Step #1 – Reminder
Set a reminder for your new habit. You don’t want to simply rely on your willpower. If you are human being then your motivation and your memory will eventually fail you. A good reminder makes it easy to start the new behavior or routine. Your reminder should be:
- Something that you do regularly (brush teeth, go to work, look at your phone, eat lunch, etc.)
- Something that happens to you regularly (sun rises or sets, phone rings, stop at a stop sign, etc.)
Setting up a reminder and linking your new behavior to it makes it easier for you to shift to your new habit.
Step #2 – Routine
Choose a habit that’s easy to start. Many people “resolve” to achieve goals and intentions that are far beyond their reach. When they wake up tomorrow and can’t see that they are measurably closer, they give up because it’s obvious that it’s not working. So rather than setting your sights on a big goal, break it down so that you can easily achieve the first few steps.
How small should this first have it be? Let’s say you one need more fruits or vegetables. Began eating one grape or one cherry or one bean tomorrow. if you want to floss regularly, start by flossing one tooth. If you want to read more, read one sentence of a book or article. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Yet really it’s how you started all of your habits. Do you remember when you learn to walk? Most of us don’t but I’m pretty sure our parents didn’t start us at the top of the hill and stand us up and tell us to sprint to the bottom. You want to make it so easy that you can’t talk yourself out of it. Remember in the beginning your mastery or your performance doesn’t matter. You can and will build your mastery once the behavior becomes your new habit.
Step #3 – Reward
Reward yourself. This is an aspect where many people struggle. We’ve been led to believe that only narcissistic, egotistical, braggadocios people celebrate their successes. Haven’t we all been around the jackass that’s always saying how wonderful he/she is?
Yet celebration of even your smallest successes accelerate your progress toward your new habit. When you say to yourself “Good job. You did well today.” or “Yes! (with the associated fist pump)”, you are causing the release of dopamine and adrenaline. This tells your brain to do more of the behavior that you did to elicit this response. You will want to continue doing the things that make you feel good. As you continue to do them and continue to reward yourself each time you make progress, you will develop your new habit in no time.
Let’s get started
It’s a simple process, right? So let’s get started!
Please note: You’ll want to be sure that your new habit is important to you – that it adds value and creates value in your life and in the world. Please don’t focus on doing things other people tell you that are important. It’s tough to form a new habit when you don’t see the value in the reward.
If you’re going to give this process a try, please send me an e-mail. In an e-mail, tell me about your new habit. What is going to remind you to do the habit? What is the routine that you’re going to set up? And how are you going to be rewarding yourself? I would love to know what you’re going to be doing and how you’re going to be growing in 2014.
If you practice these three steps, you will no longer need to re-solve your challenges. You will create new habits of excellence that lead you to achieve more and reach your aspirations! I’m wishing you many many New Year’s Solutions.