Updated: Mar 6
Welcome to 2022, if you’re like me I’ve started the new year full of plans and good intentions, go to the gym, get fit, lose some weight, drink less, save more, eat better, the list goes on. For many though, starting the year with the best intentions soon putters out to broken promises, missed sessions with your personal trainer, a shopping splurge, you know how it goes.
Interestingly enough, psychology provides us with some understanding about why we sometimes find it difficult to stick with our goals and provides some suggestions about who to keep on track and replace bad habits with good ones.
According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. The study also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Of course, some bad habits are harder to break than others, but by following some simple steps you can improve your chances of keeping your new year resolutions.
Despite what many people might think, willpower and positive affirmations are a finite resource. If all your willpower is dedicated to resisting temptation, I’m afraid you will ultimately succumb. Simply put don’t try and do everything at once, like the pilot of the jumbo jet, you can adjust the altitude you fly at, if there is turbulence ahead make the appropriate changes to avoid it.
At the heart of breaking or forming a new habit is routine. While it sounds simple to say do something repetitively till it becomes ingrained, people have lives, and jobs, friends and families that require our attention and take us away from achieving our goals. Making time in our daily routine to focus on our new goals is important to give us the time to ingrain the new positive changes we are seeking to achieve.
In these days of smart watches, etc knows you can’t go for the walk out to get the mail for the letterbox without the number of steps being recorded. Same when you go on a diet, recording your food intake, body measurements and weight is important to show you how you are making progress against your goals.
Be it dieting or fitness or even reading more books, recording, and monitoring your behaviours and intentions against your target goals provides you with a measure of your progress. Try to set realistic and achievable goals, with incremental milestones that you can identify your success and power yourself forward on your journey.
As humans, we have evolved to settle for a smaller present reward than to wait for a larger future reward, in a trade-off situation this is called “present bias”. Our future self tends to be virtuous and adopts long-term goals. In contrast, our present self often pursues short-term, situational goals.
To counter this, visualise the future you desire rather than settling for something in the present. Try to plan ahead to minimise or deflect those potential choices in the now that could divert you away from achieving your goals.
Goals and deadlines
Setting deadlines and sticking to your goals requires dedication, resilience, and perseverance. Plan out your strategy and mark your achievements with a reward to further boost your motivation. Before you know it, you will have ticked off each of your new year resolutions just in time for the next new year to begin again, this time full of positivity, pride and a since of achievement.
If you want to make some changes in your life in 2022 and and finding it hard to do it yourself, please feel free to get in touch. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation, or if you would like to make an appointment for either a face to face or online counselling session whichever is convenient.