habit tracker

Developing new habits can create major life changes in 2019

Each new year many of us come up with a list of resolutions that we are determined to follow through on. Some of us want to quit smoking, eat healthier, or exercise more often. No matter the resolution, however, the odds are against us keeping them for the entire year. According to the U.S. News and World Report, 80% of people who make new year’s resolutions give up on them by the second week of February.

This year, before embarking on a quest to stick with your new year’s resolution, try a few tips that will help you make the changes that you can keep for the entire year ahead.

The following tips are curated and paraphrased from Atomic Habits, written by James Clear.

How to create a good habit:

1. Trigger new behaviors by focusing on “the obvious”
We have cues that trigger habit formation. Certain stimuli initiate habitual behaviors, such as checking your phone when you wake up in the morning. This behavior is triggered by the smartphone being placed next to the alarm clock on your nightstand. In order to build a new habit, place a visible cue somewhere obvious. Want to read a book? Place it in the center of your coffee table. Want to run in the morning? Place your running shoes beside your bed so that you see them first thing in the morning. Want to eat more healthy food? Hide junk food in your home and put healthy snacks on the countertop.

2. Make it attractive
We are motivated by rewards. We study hard to receive good grades and get into a top-tier school. However, this may not be the most interesting activity you would naturally want to do. So, if you like games, promise yourself 20 minutes of Fortnite after an intensive 40-minute study session.

3. Make it easy to adopt
Make the new behavior doable with minimal friction. If you have decided to gain more knowledge by reading 1 book per week, why not purchase the audio version of the book on your smartphone and listen to it while you commute to work? To make the new behavior manageable, apply the two-minute rule. The two-minute rule simply states that it should take less than 2 minutes to do. If you want to run a 5K, put on running shoes and begin training slowly. If you want to read 1 book per week, begin by reading one page each day. If you want to gain new knowledge online, turn on your computer. The idea is to make the new habit as easy as possible to adopt and to form the habit over time by just showing up.

4. Make it satisfying
Some activities yield “delayed returns.” In other words, we often do not see the results of our efforts immediately on things like saving for retirement or sticking to a diet. Because of this, we often prefer and gravitate towards, instant gratification, like smoking, which relieves stress and nicotine cravings. Thus, it is essential to add an element of instant gratification to habits that have delayed returns. Perhaps you can put $10 towards a dream gaming PC every time you finish reading a book.

Overall, small changes are rarely noticeable because their short-term impact is subtle. However, when changes come in the form of small habits, over time they can impact the quality of our lives. If you want significant and meaningful changes in your life, start with small changes and turn them into habits.

May your new year bring you joy, happiness, and good habits that will positively transform your life!

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