New Year Resolutions? = Cancelled. I have started New Years in the past with many resolutions and broken them in the first week 😭😭😭.
I realised later that it’s not about declaring resolutions and expecting a change in an instant. Because the best way to experience a change in our lifestyle is through a conscious practice of better habits. So, instead of reeling out things I want to achieve in 2019, I’d rather ask; what new habits do I need to form?
Here’s the thing: good habits lead to a better quality of life. It’s just like looking at a company without structure; it always suffers in the long run and will end up losing money, sometimes crumbling. The same applies to our lives. Without the right ‘structure’, our plans could crumble. But before we talk good habits, let’s discuss how to eliminate bad habits.
How are bad habits formed?
Falling into a bad habit is always much easier than getting rid of it, annoyingly so. Most times bad habits are formed by our instinctive nature to satisfy a temporary desire or craving. Delayed gratification is most times, not our first choice. So we struggle with things like watching TV, instead of finishing this article you’re reading now or satisfying that sugar craving and ‘downing’ a fizzy drink instead of drinking water which may not taste as nice but is ultimately much better for our bodies. We shy away from the hard stuff and lean towards the easy.
How do you get rid of bad habits?
Be honest with yourself. Self-analysis and awareness are key and the results of that are different for everyone. E.g. someone else may be able to go to bed at 1 am and be up by 6 am and be perfectly alert throughout the day. You may try the same and be a walking zombie for the day. So sleeping for 5 hours a night may work for someone else as a habit but it may not work for you. Knowing yourself and what works for you in terms of a habit to drop or pick up is key.
Focus on the ‘why’. Don’t focus on the feeling of being deprived or missing out. So don’t just say, for example, with much dread ‘I’d like to start waking at least an hour earlier instead of sleeping in, so less sleep for me 😞.’ Think of the new things you would like to do in that one hour that will benefit you, eg. meditation, prayer, planning your day, etc and be excited about that.
Give yourself incentives/rewards
Set a target and if you meet it, give yourself a reward. If you’ve ever worked in sales or marketing, it’s common to get a bonus at the end of the year if you meet your target. So do the same for yourself. Back to our sleep example; if you were successfully able to wake up an hour earlier and do the things you’d planned to do in the hour e.g. meditation, planning your day, for let’s say Monday to Friday or even Thursday, then allow yourself sleep in on Saturday, if you can afford the extra time. Just be honest with yourself and make sure you’re not rewarding yourself more than the actual work put in, which then defeats the purpose.
Good habits always lead to a well put together, disciplined life. Forming them may lead to some temporary discomfort but you’ll always see great effects in your life in the long run and be better for it. And don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon; just keep trying.
List a few habits you’ll like to see go and let the work begin!