The ‘new year’s resolution’ is a time old tradition that happens every year, but unfortunately over 80% of resolutions never get seen through! A lot of them may be related to your health and fitness. But why are they so hard to keep and if you are serious about trying to keep them, is there anything that can be done to make it easier? Resolutions (more commonly known as goals) need to be turned into habits, then they are much more likely to be stuck to. After being inspired by ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear and from my own experience of this, please find below some hints and tips that will hopefully help your new year’s resolution actually come to fruition:
- Small habits can have a large impact on your life. For example, if your goal is to be able to achieve 100 sit ups in a row and you are a beginner, it is best to start with being able to do just 10 sit ups first. Keep adding just a couple of sit ups per day and within a short period of time you will be quite able to do 100. If you tried to do all 100 on the first day, you would very likely fail. Minor changes each day will lead to bigger results – focus on the trajectory you are heading towards rather than your immediate results.
- Habits are automated behaviours that we have learnt from experience. Habits are formed using a process of trial and error – if we try something and it works, we repeat it, especially if it gives us a result we like. For example, if we and trying out a new recipe and it works well and tastes great, we are likely to repeat it. Most households have about 8-10 standard meals that are cooked and repeated. Habit has been formed; we like it so we repeat it. Habits need a reward, so if we can build positive habits we will stick to them just as much as the negative ones.
- Building new habits requires a plan of action. If you are determined to try to stick to a new habit or goal, create a SMART plan for it. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For example, if you simply want to ‘get fitter’ think of more exact measurements for this; ‘Within 1 month I want to be able to complete a HIIT class, do 10 press ups and walk 1 mile and I can practice this on a Monday and a Thursday’. Also ensure its realistic; if you have never run before in your life, don’t expect to be able to run a marathon within 1 month.
- Make habit forming easier for yourself. If you leave more obvious cues around your immediate environment to trigger action this will make forming that new habit much more achievable. For example, if you leave healthy snacks within reach instead of the unhealthy snacks, you are much more likely to eat the healthier snacks. If you move your exercise bike into the lounge in front of the TV you are much more likely to use it than if its packed up in the spare room. Reduce friction ie. The effort it takes to do something, and the habit will form much quicker.
- Make your habits immediately satisfying. This is not easy because most goals are not achieved immediately, but if you can attach a positive gratification to it then it will help. For example, using a tracker will really help with this then you will see the progress you make each week and month. You could also try putting a £1 coin in the jar every time you go to the gym will soon add up to being able to buy new funky trainers with your saved coins!