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Making Habits Stick: How to Keep your NYE Resolutions

The clock strikes 12:00am on January the 1st, anticipation and excitement rolls into the start of a brand-new year, and we set out on a mission to better ourselves.  

“2021 is my year! I’m going to quit smoking, go to the gym at least twice a week, and eat salads all day long!”  

New Year’s resolutions sound great in principle; who wouldn’t want to strive for improvement in their day-to-day habits?  

However, the reality is rather unimpressive – virtually every study tells us that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions get abandoned around the month of February. An 80% failure rate, within a month! Imagine how many more get abandoned further into the year! How that once overwhelming feeling of inspiration fizzles away day by day… 

So why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep? Sticking to newly-formed habits can be tricky. Adjusting to a period of change and introducing new behaviours can certainly feel uncomfortable and maybe a little alienating. 

The solution to staying on track lies at the beginning – that first impulse to change.   

Set yourself realistic resolutions or goals that you honestly believe can be achieved. 

The next step is to put these goals into practice. 

The Habit Model 

For your long-term goals to be achieved, habits have to become automatic – we shouldn’t have to consciously force ourselves into sticking to a habit every time we do it.  

This is where the habit model comes in. The habit model is a framework depicting the three-stage process for creating new habits: cue, reward, routine. 

Let’s take the example of a smoker trying to break his habit and apply it to this model. 

  1. Cue: Desire or trigger to pick up a cigarette. 
  1. Routine: Avert from picking up the cigarette / use nicotine patches / use vape instead etc. 
  1. Reward: Process becomes easier, new behaviour of ‘non-smoking’ eventually turns into habit. 

Breaking the bad habit of smoking only becomes a good non-smoking habit once the cue (or trigger) of initial craving diminishes. Then, the routine becomes consistent, the habit becomes automatic and the routine sets you on a path to achieving your goal. 

A Long Road Ahead 

This is certainly not a quick or easy process. In a study by health psychology researcher, 96 people were examined on their one new habit over a 12-week period.  

The findings? On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes a habit (about 66 days to be exact). This is why so many of those New-Year’s resolutions are abandoned around February! 

The verdict? Making habits stick isn’t quite the plain-sailing venture that you thought it would be.  

So, the next time you set out your New Year’s resolutions, perhaps stick to one and ask yourself: is this achievable? 

Belief Drives Motivation  

Ultimately, belief is the driving force for motivation. Believing that you can achieve something – believing that the end or long-term goal is attainable – is what will encourage you to stay on track.  

Setting out the goal of going to the gym five times a week just isn’t achievable if you don’t have the time to set aside in pursuit of that goal.  

Start simple. Set goals that you believe can be achieved. Watch yourself become motivated. 

The Importance of Positive Peer Pressure 

‘For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group

Charles Duhigg

Positive reinforcement from a group or peer setting has demonstrated to be the most effective factor in supporting and motivating your beliefs. 

A student being told by their teachers that they are capable of achieving A grades will start to believe in their capability, and will feel more motivated in studying towards this goal.  

A gym-goer being assigned a workout partner will feel motivated to keep up, remain competitive and stay motivated towards their workout goals. 

A good place to start is to surround yourself with supportive and motivating influences. 

This is where Ceed comes in – you can create habits that stick and support your success with the help of a team that holds you accountable. 

Take a look at our services here!

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