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14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year

14 Tips For Resolutions That Stick in the New Year
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    Statistics show that only about 15% of New Years Resolutions are kept. With an 85% failure rate, it’s no wonder that the amount of resolutions made is dropping. You wouldn’t buy a product that is defective 85% of the time, so why buy into the annual hype about resolutions? A strategy that fails over four fifths of the time is broken. The question is, how do you fix it?

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    Most resolutions come in the form of habit changes. Quitting smoking, hitting the gym and staying organized are all based on routine habits. I’ve spent the last few years changing habits. Training myself to become organized, exercise regularly, eat healthy, wake up early and work productively.

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    Resolutions Require Strategy, Not Willpower

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    I believe that most New Years Resolutions fail because people approach them incorrectly. Instead of developing a strategy for changing habits, most people try to rely on willpower. While willpower and motivation can get you through the first week or two, it can’t last forever.

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    With the right strategy, however, you can make habit changes a success. There is no perfect formula, but after changing dozens of habits in myself over the last few years, I can offer a few suggestions:

    1. Create a Trigger. A trigger is a specific ritual you perform whenever you get a particular cue. This ritual focuses you on performing your habit, rather than sliding into old vices. Snapping your fingers when you feel the temptation to smoke; jumping out of bed at the sound of your alarm or repeating, “do it now!” to yourself are all triggers designed to kick your habit off. Practice your trigger and it will become automatic, overriding your default behaviors.
    2. Replace Lost Needs. Most habits fulfill a purpose of some kind, even if the side-effects are negative. You might watch television to relax, even if you have other things you would rather do. You might eat junk food to feel full, even if it isn’t healthy. Consider what you are giving up in your habit change and make an effort to replace those lost needs.
    3. Write It in Ink. A commitment inside your head isn’t a commitment at all. Keep a binder where you can store written commitments for habit changes. Not only will writing reinforce a promise to yourself, it will clarify your thinking as to what exactly you want to change.
    4. Commit for a Month. Resolve to stick to your change for at least thirty days. Less than this and you are likely to fall back into old habits. Three to four weeks is all it takes to condition a new habit.
    5. Keep a Journal. Open up a new word document and commit to writing a few sentences each day about your progress. I’ve found this method helpful in reminding me about my commitment and helping me focus on the change I want to make.
    6. Increase Positive Feedback. If you reward a behavior, it will increase. Punish a behavior and it will be reduced. This feedback mechanism is common to all animals with a nervous system from sea slugs to human beings. If your new habit makes you feel worse than the old habits, it can’t last.
    7. Strategic Enjoyment. One way to create more positive feedback is to structure your habit so it becomes more fun. Going to the gym isn’t the only way to exercise if you hate it. Eating tofu isn’t the only meal option for vegetarians. Look for ways you can make a new habit more enjoyable.
    8. Think Years, Not Months. A diet that consists of grapefruit and water isn’t going to provide nutritional needs to last your whole life. Work on creating changes to your diet, work, exercise or routines that can be sustained for years. Crash diets and 18-hour workdays will eventually break.
    9. If You Slip Up, Start Over. I consider a habit change complete when I can go thirty consecutive days. If you slip up and break your habit on the 3rd, 15th, or 27th day, start over. This keeps you from cheating on days with the excuse that you will resume the day afterwards.
    10. Behavior First, Results Later. Don’t let watching the scale or your bank account discourage you when trying to change a habit. The correct change in behavior has to come before any results start to appear. Focusing too much on losing weight, working less or being rich and throw off your attempts to form good habits.
    11. One Habit at a Time. Don’t tackle several changes at once. Successfully conditioning one habit change is more useful than giving up on a half dozen changes after a month.
    12. Learn From Mistakes. This one is pretty obvious, but it’s surprising how many people when they fail to make a change, go back to using the exact same strategy. Figure out why you failed previously, and don’t be too quick to blame willpower.
    13. Consistency Counts. A habit that is performed the same way, at the same time and under the same conditions every day for a month will be reinforced far more strongly than one that changes throughout the week. Be consistent and you can spend less time reinforcing a habit.
    14. Create a Habits List. When I started changing habits I created a list of all the changes I would like to make. Each month I’d pick one change and focus on it until I could cross it off the list. This method can focus your enthusiasm so you don’t take on too much or too little.

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    Scott H Young

    Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

    How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways to Try Now How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick 18 Tips for Killer Presentations

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

    More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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