At the start of another year, another quarter or even another week can often mean a new commitment.
A new month, another resolution: whether it be Steptember, Droptober, Movember, FebFast, Sober October, etc.
We all like a fresh start; a new beginning. Whatever happened in the past is past. A new month equals a new start.
This is, of course, particularly prevalent when January 1st comes around. The legendary new year’s resolution is a global tradition.
The ‘healthy lifestyle’ resolution
And particularly common is the health and fitness resolution – I’m gonna get fitter, stronger, leaner, better, smarter, hotter…I’m gonna lose that belly fat, that extra inch around the midriff, I’m going to fit back into those awesome jeans…
It feels good to think this way. It feels like we don’t need to explain anything to anyone. It’s a new start and that means new positive changes.
This passion typically lasts for 2-3 weeks. In some cases it may go on for few more weeks. But eventually – in most cases – the goals are never reached!
In a briefing organised by the Australian Science Media Centre, Dr Anthony Grant – Head of Coaching Psychology Unit at University of Sydney – stated that up to 88% resolutions fail due to lack of planning and readiness for long-term change. *
There is a very simple logic behind this. We often only think about our goals in the last days of the year.
Many of us only consider making a new year’s resolution on the New Year’s Eve. Such decisions are fuelled on emotions and impulse. Very little or no consideration is given to what changes are required to achieve a goal. They are designed to be a quick fix.
So how do we set about making lifestyle changes stick?
Making your lifestyle changes stick
This is the number one factor that will let you down if you are not ready.
It is about foreseeing the impact on our own lifestyle; impact on family and friends; and then planning the action items accordingly. If you are not ready to bring the changes required to your current lifestyle in order to see your goal to completion then don’t start.
It could turn out to be a big waste of energy, time and money. Plus, you may never try again, believing that ‘I’ve already done it and it does not work‘.
Plan your goal in such a way that it becomes clear what lifestyle changes you need to adopt.
Commit the time to make it a habit
It is a well known fact that on an average it takes at least 21 days to form a habit.
That means repeating something everyday for 21 days at the same time and in the same way.
This repetition sends a strong signal to our unconscious mind. All habits are ultimately governed by our unconscious mind.
When we consciously repeat something enough times then that’s a signal for the unconscious mind to take over and free our conscious mind for other tasks.
Achieving a goal is merely a “side-effect” of adopting your new lifestyle.
Remember this – when you achieve your goal you have already become next better version of your self. Your goal didn’t make you better. You became better first and that led you to your goal.
Adopt the lifestyle of the kind of person you want to become
You are much more likely to achieve your goals when you can adopt the lifestyle of the type of person you aspire to be. This type of actualisation can be very successful if you can stick to a commitment lasting three months or so.
There are a huge number of self-help courses and self-improvement books that can help you through the steps of visualisation, goal-setting and action plans required to change your lifestyle.
Typically they will help you to:
- Understand your core values
- Set SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-bound) goals that meet your values
- Create strategies for your goals
- Create action plan for 90 Days with milestones
- Track progress every month by analysing the results
- Update action plans according to the progress and challenges faced
- Provide coaching to address any limiting beliefs that may block you from progressing
- Celebrate the achievement of your goals
* Since the original writing of this article, we have been very sorry to hear of the untimely death of Professor Anthony Grant in February 2020. Professor Grant was an influential and much respected figure in coaching and psychology academia.