In the blog post Why failing at your resolution is good for you, I explained why new year resolutions more often than not fail because we aren’t engineering them enough.
Habit engineering is a learned skill.
It not easy.
And, it tends to be very individualised.
For example, the cold turkey approach to quitting smoking will work for some, but others may need the gradual ramp down.
It’s more than learning how to engineer habits. It is also learning about yourself and how to engineer your habits.
Here are 5 recommendations for you as you press on with your 2015 new year resolutions that might help.
#1: Write it down …. clearly.
We constantly underestimate our ability to remember things. Not just to-do’s, the names of people we’ve just met, and so on … but certainly our goals too.
So as simple as it sounds, tip #1 is write it down. Write it down clearly. What does the end goal look like. Be clear about it. Is it a SMART goal? Envision it if you have to. Add color, pictures, quotes. Stick it on your bathroom mirror, your door … both.
Write it down so it’s pristinely clear where you’re going and put it where you can be reminded and inspired.
#2: Break it down.
Here’s the thing. We don’t do goals. We do actions, tasks, to-do’s, routines. So if you want to achieve it goal, you’ve got to break it down into the things you can actually do.
What’s the very next action you need to do to achieve that goal? Do you need to research something, plan something, talk to someone, book an appointment, purchase something, set an alarm for a routine, and so forth. Whatever that next action is, get clear about it.
#3: Strive for consistency.
The reality is that to make something happen you need to be working towards it bit by bit … consistently. It’s the consistency that make getting to your goal automatic.
The trick is finding the how to do it. Once you’ve found how, get that how into a rhythm where you can do a bit at a time and voila, you’ll see that goal or that new habit formed with less effort than you think you need.
So figure out how you can progress towards your goal with consistency.
#4. You can’t stop doing a habit.
Habit science is maturing and we’re lucky to be living in a time when we know far more about how our brain works when it comes to habits. And here’s one of the things we’ve learned – You can never stop doing a habit.
So if your new year’s resolution is to stop smoking, stop working too hard, stop getting irritated by so and so, and so on … you likely won’t get very far.
Instead, find out what you want to start doing that replaces that habit.
For example, instead of stop smoking it’s perhaps take a run when you get stressed. You replace run without whatever your new habit is.
Instead of stop working too hard, perhaps its call a friend whenever 5pm to break you out of that work mode.
Have you tried any of these tactics to achieve big goals or new habits? Did they work?