If you are one of the many setting intentions and resolutions for the new year, we have a slightly different approach to offer that you may find beneficial. Instead of thinking about the outcomes you’d like to achieve in the new year, shift that focus to the behavioral changes you can make. For instance, if your goal is to find a new job, put your focus on what small steps you’d take in order to make that happen. This might be getting in the habit of spending half an hour every day working towards finding a new job, such as spending that time working on your resume, connecting with your network on LinkedIn, etc. Another common new year’s resolution is to lose weight, with that you’d think about what habits are preventing you currently from losing weight. The behavioral change you could make in this example might be not eating after dinner unless you are truly hungry. When implementing changes in your life, it’s also helpful to consider these steps.
Why are you making this change?
Unless you have a strong enough reason for wanting to make a change, it’s hard to stay true to your intentions and resolutions. So using the 2 examples above of finding a new job and losing weight, what is the emotional reason behind those goals? Will it make you happier, prouder, or more confident? Get very clear on your “why” so that in the times you’re struggling to continue working towards that goal, you can come back to that strong emotional reason and persevere.
What are the habits you’ll adopt?
Think about what small, attainable steps or daily habits you can continuously take to work towards your goals. Baby steps may not feel like they’re going to get you anywhere, but it’s the ease and sustainability of those small steps/habits that are key to lasting success. In a Forbes article on the power of habits they write, “This is the beauty of creating habits. We can start with a minimum viable action, like going for a walk every day or doing light stretching daily, and build on it progressively. The idea is to incorporate a desired behavior into our roster of default behaviors. Once the change is made, we can move on to more challenging behaviors like going to the gym or running a 5K.”
What replacement habits or rewards can you put into place?
Once you’ve decided on the reasoning and attainable steps you’re wanting to take, think about what enjoyable replacement habits or rewards would incentivize you. If you’re wanting to stop late-night snacking, what can you replace that habit with? Maybe instead you replace that with a cup of tea, taking a bath, and listening to a podcast. And if your goal is to find a new job, for every milestone you achieve towards that goal you could treat yourself with a nice meal out or a massage. Reward yourself with whatever brings you pleasure and joy.