Old habits are often triggered by four things that can easily be changed: specific events, times, locations, or other people. You need to play around with these triggers and change them.
If you’re trying to eat healthy, for example, but 11am is cake time at work then you need to do something else at 11am. If you’re trying to cut down on alcohol but socialise with people who drink a couple of pints at lunch, then you need to find another social circle at lunch.
It’s important to make a real change to one or more of these triggers, otherwise, you’re just relying on willpower and that’s probably why you’ve struggled with your resolutions so far.
Your willpower is an excellent tool to get you started on your goals, but reduces over time and evaporates into the ether, leaving in its absence… powerful temptation.
By resetting your goals and ambitions on Blue Monday, you are much more likely to stick to your goals because you’ve had a practice period in the first few weeks of January and you’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t.
Also, the chaos of the festive aftermath has disappeared, and you’ve settled into a routine which makes it easier to make realistic changes.
There’s no law saying that resolutions and lifestyle changes can only be made on the first of January.
Dr Taylor’s top tips:
1) Don’t rely on willpower – willpower is very fragile and it will eventually run out. If you want to start a new behaviour (like exercising), try doing it in the morning so the temptation to not do it has less time to act.
2) Find the trigger for that bad habit and make a real tangible change to that trigger and your routine.
3) Think of the first weeks of January as a practice – Decide what got in your way of achieving your new resolutions and plan so you avoid them from now on
4) Reduce the effort – For example, if you plan to go for a run after work have all your kit ready so the effort of getting ready is reduced and the effort of resisting temptation is less
5) Were your resolutions too hard? Aim for shorter-term benefits – focussing solely on long-term goals will not give you the regular motivational boosts and feelings of accomplishment you need to keep going
6) Don’t dwell on failure – failing is part of the process and the best goals are challenging. If you’ve broken your resolutions already, it doesn’t matter, there’s no reason why you can’t try again.