New Year’s resolutions. Yes, it’s that time of year again.
When thoughts turn to making our selves all shiny and new—with intention, purpose and results. But before we’re very far into the New Year, our resolution is a thing of the not-so-distant past. It’s no wonder that the beginning of a new year is the number one failure period—at a rate of about 80 percent—with most losing their resolve by mid-February.
Been there, done that? This year could be different….if you took the right kind of approach.
Research supports the connection between well-being and performance, and the best way to actually be more productive is to prioritize your well-being and take time to unplug and recharge. We know that the success of those 20 percent of resolvers who make their desired health changes stick are able to do so because they have a specific plan with very achievable goals grounded in well-established habits.
Stanford behavior scientist Dr. BJ Fogg condemns the whole idea of New Year’s resolutions. “What a mistake—the whole idea around New Year’s resolutions. People aren’t picking specific behaviors, they’re picking abstractions,” he says. “Abstract goals don’t work when they aren’t tied to specific behaviors. And to retain new behavior, it needs to be instinctual. The more you have to remember to do something, the better the chances are that you’ll talk yourself out of it.” Habits, on the other hand, are behaviors you don’t think about—they’re instinctual.
Classic behavior models focus on decision-making as a key component of behavior. New behavior science is pointing us in a new direction premised upon the idea that habit formation, in order to last, should be built on baby steps – “tiny habits,” as Fogg has labeled them.
These are small, actionable and science-backed steps that can make immediate changes. It’s the idea that if you make the steps small enough, they’ll become too-small-to-fail. And research backs this approach and shows that starting small makes new habits more likely to stick.
Small goals are shown to allow for more frequent wins, keep motivation high, and encourage the continuation of setting and succeeding with more goals. By implementing the identification of tiny, ultimately doable goals, and tying those to behavioral triggers and rewards, people are able to progress intentionally and methodically towards living the healthy life they desire
What does a tiny habit look like?
- After I brush, I will floss one tooth.
- After I arrive back home, I will set out my gym clothes for the next day.
- After I put my head on my pillow, I will think of one good thing from the day.
- After I stop at a red light, I will take three deep breaths to relax.
- After my feet hit the floor in the morning, I will do 5 push-ups.
Small steps may appear unimpressive, but don’t be deceived. They are the means by which perspectives are subtly altered, mountains are gradually scaled, and lives are forever changed.
Small steps every day! Happy New Year!