With the New Year, many of us feel compelled to make resolutions. In order to keep up your momentum, read the tricks and tips from Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before; Amanda Steinberg, financial advisor and author of Worth It; and Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.
1. Make good choices convenient and bad choices inconvenient.
- Wash and slice veggies on Sunday for your Monday and Tuesday snack.
- Put your phone in another room to avoid nonstop email checking or social media surfing.
- Limit yourself to cash when going out.
- Use online stores as a guest so you can’t “1-click purchase” later.
- Move your laundry hamper to a more visible location.
- Make a shopping list before you go in a store.
2. Use pairing. Stack a new habit with old ones to streamline a new routine.
- Sandwich your new flossing habit between your automatic habits of tooth brushing and using mouthwash.
- Pair something enjoyable, like listening to a podcast or audiobook, with your new habit of walking after work.
3, Recognize cues. A cue is anything that prompts a habit. A cue can be part of a routine, such as the chime indicating you have a text, or it can be emotional, such as anxiety.
- If stop-and-go traffic prompts you to bite your nails, find another outlet for your stress such as tapping to the beat of your favorite songs. Replacing a bad behavior can work if the cue (traffic) and reward (something to do with your hands) are the same.
- Avoid some cues – if driving by a drive-thru tempts you, take a different route home.
- Give yourself new cues – leave a leash and rain boots near the front door to cue you to walk the dog before you settle in for the night.
4. Schedule it! Scheduling works for both chores and play. Setting firm times to quit working and stop checking email can help you protect time for your personal life. Scheduling time to care for yourself, your sense of purpose and your relationships will help you be more resilient. Make time for hobbies!
- Book time in your calendar or planner for your new habit and set phone reminders. Get family or friends involved to make sticking to your new behavior more enjoyable!
- If you tend to let work dominate your schedule, try out an exercise class, join a book club, or host a monthly brunch for friends.
- Introverts benefit from scheduling alone-time to recharge.
5. Avoid total deprivation. Going cold turkey might not help you stick to your habits, but setting small, realistic goals can.
- When budgeting, select three or four “non-negotiables” that give you pleasure – your Netflix account, two dinners out per month, and your monthly haircut and color. Budget for those; then, put the rest of your money in savings or investments.
- Plan exceptions. If it is a friend’s birthday or a special event, define new boundaries for spending (or eating and drinking) just for this occasion. The next day, go back to your healthy choices.
Share your strategies for upholding resolutions in the comments section!