I know it's popular to be setting resolutions about this time… It's something I've done just about every year up until now. I've known for awhile now that they tend to fail… after all, you can start on new habits any time you'd like, no matter what day is on the calendar! But now I'm starting to realize why.
Often we will choose to add a bunch of habits at once on January 1. “This will be the year I get in shape and kick butt in my career! Oh, and keep my home spotless and cook healthy meals for my family every day!” Not only is it unrealistic to try to implement so many habits at once, but it's also pretty far-fetched to try to do so while coming out of what is the most stressful time of year for many people.
I'd like to offer a different plan of action: why not make January a time for rest and peace? Use it to think about what you really want to accomplish in the year ahead as you wind down from the whirlwind of activity that is the holidays.
And when you do think of habits that you want to add to your life…. here are 5 tips for making them work – really work:
Focus on ONE habit at a time.
If it's really important to you, give it as much attention as you possibly can! Go deep, learn all that you can and really bring your new habit thoroughly into your life. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to “make over” your life all at once – a makeover washes right off, friends. Go deeper – go for real change.
Give it 30 days.
Productivity gurus all over the internet say it takes about a month for something to become a habit. So give it some time to sink in! A month isn't too long… when you commit to working out every day for a month, or spending 45 minutes cleaning every day for a month – or whatever – it doesn't seem that overwhelming at all.
Learning a new habit with your spouse, or a friend, or maybe even one of your kids is a lot more fun and also gives you that extra bit of accountability.
Keep your focus.
Put systems in place that help you stay focused on your goals. Working on fitness? Set your homepage to your favorite fitness blog. Blogging every day? Plan out topics in advance so you can be thinking ahead to what you'll be writing about. There are all sorts of ways you can place little reminders around yourself to keep you focused on the habit you want to be cultivating.
Be honest with yourself.
You might find yourself wanting to change gears or quit altogether – and you know what? Sometimes that's okay. You'll know whether you are being true to yourself or just making excuses to give up when you are really honest with yourself. If you're just being lazy – admit it and keep pushing forward anyway! But if a habit is truly not that important to you anymore, focus on one that is!
What habits are you hoping to cultivate over the next year?