Every year people come up with New Year’s Resolutions. In some instances they are changing lifestyle habits like exercising, saving more money or dieting. Sadly, most of these ideas fail after only a few months; 2014 will most likely be the same for many Americans.
A staple of resolutions is to change a habit. Most habits take up to a month to break, and two months to reaffirm. This is about when most people give up. Gyms see memberships rise during January and February but fall again shortly thereafter. To successfully create a new habit, a person has to actively work on it for two months. For most, two months is simply t0o long.
Instead, I propose people try to change their attitudes one step at a time. According to several self-help websites and books, most people fail because they try to change several things at once. Most of these sites agree that a person should try to change one thing at a time, and spend at least two months on each habit.
My proposal for this year’s resolutions is to pick three or four mental habits to change. These can be anything from trying to smile more, to stop feeling guilty about mistakes, or even physical habits. After you choose your goals, decide on the order of completion.
To start, create a To Do list of how you want to change, and include a list of reasons why. If you choose to be a happier person, make goals like smiling more, looking for the best in a situation, and doing more fun activities. After that, decide why doing these will make you happier, such as: smiling more makes me feel better, a positive outlook keeps you from being depressed, etc.
Once these lists have been formed, make reminders for yourself, like putting notes where you can see them. A note on the bathroom mirror is a place that most people will see first thing in the morning and right before bed. A calendar reminder on phones and computers is another great place that will be seen frequently. Having multiple reminders is a good way to keep the idea in your conscious brain, and hopefully in your subconscious.
Changing a habit takes a lot of time. Self-help suggestions advocate taking at least 27-30 days to change the habit. After that, another 30 is needed to reaffirm the habit. It’s during this reaffirmation period that most people fail.
The first 30 days is a challenge, yes, but can be accomplished with diligence. After this initial phase, most people slip up on their commitment, thinking it’s now a habit. Although the beginnings of true change are there, more time is needed to solidify that new pattern. This is the point of the reaffirmation period.
This means in order to successfully change a habit, a person needs to focus on it for at least 60 days.
Creating a change is in life is always a challenge. More than one change raises the level of difficulty exponentially. This is why I recommend trying to change only one habit at a time. By starting with one, then adding a second, third or more, and by giving each a significant amount of time and consideration, you can increase your chances of success.
Give yourself a better chance at success and enjoy 2014!