The excitement and buzz of a new year filled our veins as the clock struck midnight in January.
A new year. A new decade. A new you?
January is often a time of new beginnings – or, at the very least, a time of desired new beginnings.
The gyms are full in January for the first couple of weeks as people commit to their New Year’s resolutions. By the end of this same month, those left standing are often the ones that were there all along.
Unless you have a strategic, realistic plan to implement, these “new beginnings” are simply wishful thinking and nothing more.
Your WHY – your reason for wanting the change – needs to be stronger than your excuses. Why are you committing to this change? Why do you want this change? Is this something you want (intrinsic motivation) or are you doing this because others want you to do it (extrinsic motivation)? Intrinsic motivation will help keep you focused on your end goal through the challenging moments in your quest for change.
Still, some days, motivation may not be enough. Some days, you’re just NOT motivated. This is where habits are crucial because once an activity becomes a habit, it becomes part of your lifestyle and no longer requires motivation to get it done.
How do you create a habit? The easiest way to create a habit is through habit stacking. Habit stacking consists of pairing a desired habit with one of your current habits. For example, if you always brush your teeth in the morning before work (current habit) and would like to do a daily gratitude exercise (desired habit) as well, you could stack these two activities together to be done sequentially in the morning. By doing one activity after the other, the current habit serves as your structured routine and reminder to do the desired habit immediately. Commit to this habit stacking each day for three consecutive weeks and notice how your desired habit becomes part of your routine.
I recommend that you choose your habit stacking pair carefully. Choose two activities that are realistically doable one after the other, or perhaps even doable simultaneously if it makes sense to do them at the same time. The idea is to incorporate the desired habit into a part of your day where it makes sense for the long term.
Another important consideration when choosing a desired habit is to pick a behaviour or an activity that is not a significant departure from your current lifestyle. Once your desired habit becomes routine, you can introduce incremental change to this habit to move you closer to the ultimate end goal. The idea is to introduce incremental change to increase the likelihood of sustainable change. For example, you brush your teeth in the morning (current habit) and then say five things you’re grateful for (desired habit). Once this desired habit becomes a habit (i.e. part of your regular routine), you introduce incremental change so that now instead of saying five things you’re grateful for, you now write these five things in your gratitude journal.
What are YOU looking to change in 2020? What’s your WHY? Which HABIT STACKING pair will you choose?