We’re now a solid month into 2016. A new year, and conceivably your fresh start, right? If you’re among the masses, you most likely made a lofty New Year’s Resolution when the clock struck midnight because this was the year you would hit those goals and actually hold yourself accountable to them.
Wouldn’t that be nice.
45% of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution each year….and only 8% of them are actually successful in achieving those resolutions. The odds are not in your favor here, unless you have steel will power, or an incredibly simple resolution. But what’s the fun in a simple resolution that won’t challenge you? Before you lose all hope of attaining your resolution, we’re sharing some of our tips and tricks on building powerful (and healthy) habits and hold yourself accountable on all those goals you set for yourself, from the simple to the lofty.
In his bestseller The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg writes about the habit loop. This loop is a three step process that begins with a “cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.” If that reward is deemed worth remembering, then you begin to form a craving, and voila! A habit is born.
Now, when you hear craving, it doesn’t have to mean your nightly craving for chocolate. It could simply mean that when you wake up in the morning you walk into the bathroom, throw some toothpaste on your toothbrush and brush your teeth. The reward? That minty fresh feeling! Yes, even your morning routine of brushing your teeth is considered a habit. The point is, that with time, you can reset those habits you’ve created and you can also create new habits. Which is key when it comes to holding yourself accountable to your New Year’s Resolutions.
Ready with your resolution or new habit? Okay, we’ve got the steps to help you hold yourself accountable to form the new habit and move forward with hitting all your 2016 goals.
1. Make your new habit a priority
If you’re serious about creating a new habit, you have to force yourself to…well, get into the habit. It’s not the easiest part of the cycle but it’s necessary. Your new habit may not be something you do first thing in the morning, but you can still write a note to yourself and put it by your bed so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up. Set reminders throughout your day to give you the heads up to stay on top of the habit and of course, make make your new habit priority over some of the other things in your life. Research has shown that it takes about 66 days to form a new habit. So, set yourself up for success throughout that time by prioritizing your goals and sticking to them.
2. Don’t go it alone
Find yourself an accountability partner. Come day 34 of 66 of that habit building, you’re going to want someone to lean on and who better to go to with your complaints or struggles than someone who’s also working to build some new habits? Check in with your friends, family and co-workers, and see who’s planning on creating a resolution…and sticking to it. If they’re deemed worthy of becoming your partner in habit forming, then create a plan for how’ll you hold each other accountable. Whether that’s daily phone calls or text check ins, or making a point to leave notes at each other’s desk to help you stay the course, knowing you’ve got someone on your team to keep you moving can make a huge difference in achieving your habit goal.
3. Write it all down
Not to throw a new habit at you while you’re already trying to establish a habit or resolution, but you may want to consider fitting some time into your day to write about your process. No, it doesn’t have to be an essay, but there’s some science behind physically writing things down. And yes, that’s with a pen and paper, not on your iPhone notepad! Set aside some time at the end of your day or take notes throughout your day about the process of your goal setting and habit building. Think about what’s frustrating about the process, what’s worked for you and definitely take note of what hasn’t worked too. Reflecting on the process gives you time to think about how to improve it and a simple way to vent any frustrations you may have.
4. Get tech savvy
For some of you, this may be the fun part. How can all the technology out there help you achieve your habits and goals? One of our Contactually coworkers has handed all of his daily goals over to the app Productive. The app actually bills itself as a habit tracker, and what’s more perfect than that? Our coworker figured out exactly what he habits he wanted to get into, and these ranged from calling his parents at least once a week, to drinking more bottles a water a day, and heading to the gym 5 times a week.
Luckily the app can keep track of all of these, it sends you handy reminders, and gives you the option to check it off once you’ve completed them. All that habit forming technology…in the palm of your hand! For those of you looking for something a little more quantitative, the app will graph your progress so you can check out when you’re most likely to follow through on your habits and adjust how you go about creating your habit loop.
Go forth and hit your goals
Sure, when it comes down to the percentages of people actually achieving their new year’s resolutions, the odds don’t always look so good. But haven’t you ever noticed that the majority of people making those new year’s resolutions tend to do so blindly and shoot for goals that may not be entirely attainable? Setting a goal or creating new habit requires some self-awareness and understanding of your ability and what you’ll be capable of doing. Don’t underestimate yourself! But it’s worth it to be honest and challenge yourself too.