With the new year in full swing, it’s a good time to take stock of the progress you’ve made – or where you’ve stalled – on achieving your New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re already on your way to achieving some of the goals you set for yourself, celebrate! After all, we know from the science of behavior research that the feeling of satisfaction for a job well done triggers a release of dopamine that encourages us to repeat the pattern again.
But what if you’ve struggled to reset your patterns and need a boost of inspiration? You’ve come to the right place!
Combining our Institute Success Principle™ with advice from some best-selling authors on the science of habit formation, here are five quick takeaways on how to form good habits:
1. Don’t Give Up Too Soon: Many people struggle with the consistency needed for a new good habit to take hold. Consider the classic New Year’s resolution, “I am going to the gym more often.” At first, it’s invigorating; then it becomes harder and excuses start getting in the way. Did you know it takes on average at least two months – and sometimes up to a year – for a new behavior to become an automatic part of your routine? If those sore muscles are telling you to quit, don’t listen. Just keep going!
2. Make the New Habit Small and Easy to Achieve: Break down your goal into tiny, specific steps that are realistic for YOU. If you want to read more books to develop expertise in your new job, start with 5 pages a day. Read every day at the same time, then add more pages over time. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to finish a book like BJ Fogg’s “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything,” or James Clear’s “Atomic Habits: an Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,” (both Institute Success recommendations) in no time.
3. Piggyback a New Habit After an Existing One: The easiest way to make a new habit part of your routine is to start doing it AFTER a habit that is already ingrained. Want to start meditating to clear your mind and align your priorities with your goals? Try doing it right after you brush your teeth in the morning. Want to grow your business network? Set aside 10 or 15 minutes after your daily sales meeting to reach out to a fresh contact or two.
4. Track Your Habits: Make a plan with specifics for starting your new habits, then track your progress in writing, or use a tracking app like Streaks or Habitify. Remember the dopamine rush that comes from checking off a job well done.
5. Reframe Habits in Terms of Who You Want to Become: Every day, we should ask ourselves, “How can I be at MY best today?” Write down three things that will make you feel accomplished. Repeat this every day, and soon patterns will emerge that will take you down the path to becoming your best self.
Our suggestion for a new habit? Join us at our next Goal Setting Intensive. We’ll help you make the next year your very best year and achieve your most important goals, while keeping you honest with weekly insight calls to stay on track.