As New year is approaching, all of us start having new hopes and aspire to be a new and upgraded version of ourselves. We plan on doing so many things to manage our home & relationships better. We strive to perform better at work and desire to polish ourselves to be able to do so. We want to improve our scores in the areas of health and education. In a nutshell, we can say that at this time of the year, we are full of hope, enthusiasm and energy.
By the end of January or at the most by end of March, we lose track of our aspirations, planned changes and are left with despair, guilt and frustration. We conclude that our life does not change, we don’t have the willpower, declare that situations are not under control and close the chapter until the end of December. But none of us feel good about the way we left things midway, unfinished.
Research suggests that fewer than half of those who make New year resolutions have kept them after 6 months.
Does that mean that we should not bother to make new resolutions?
Let’s look at the bright side and see the glass as half full. People who wish to make a positive change still have a good chance of making it, and sticking to it. So it is a good idea to have a yearly ritual of contemplation about our health and well-being and wish to make a new habit that brings a positive change in our lives.
Everyone wants to feel good about themselves. Isn’t it the innate nature of being human? Feeling good about ourselves for our capabilities and achievements is something all of us experience.
Naturally, when we don’t accomplish what we wanted to, we feel guilty, demoralized and let down. This results in loss of motivation, which in turn leads to more distress. Somewhere along the way, we forget that it is not a race and is a journey. We think we lost the race and quit.
As we are approaching the new year eve, an event packed with hope, optimism and promise, we want to inspire, motivate and uplift you to make some positive changes in your lifestyle that can bring health, well-being and prosperity.
Successfully adopting a new habit involves the following steps.
- Contemplation (thinking about the change you want to make)
- Preparation (making up your mind for the change)
- Action (starting the new habit)
- Maintenance (Sticking to the new routine and continuing it)
8 tips for adopting a new habit
- ‘Prioritize’ is the mantra
In our zeal to better ourselves, we often get carried away and take on the tasks that involve multiple areas. If you feel that you need to make changes in different areas, note down the changes you wish to make in your Life.
Target one area at one time. Even if you have modest goals, it is better not to have targets in multiple areas at once unless they are closely linked.
For example: you can club ‘one fruit a day’ and ‘10 minutes walk’ together, to achieve your weight loss goal.
If you are thinking of making more than one change, have a major goal and few minor goals. Your major goal is where you put most of your energy and thought in; other minor goals are a bonus if you achieve them.
Remember that your major goal is your priority
- Break down big goals into small tasks
When we are setting goals in one area, we plan big changes and don’t take the other areas that take up the space and time in our life into account. Naturally the goal turns into an non-achievable monumental project.
It’s good to have a big goal to be achieved by the end of the year, but breaking it down in to small tasks and increasing the intensity in monthly increments promotes compliance. Start with the first baby step, that is achievable most of the days so that you can begin to feel good and take the act to the next level.
It may be as small as taking a 5 minute walk or doing 10 push-ups daily for a sedentary person, as opposed to 1 hour of exercising in the Gym.
- Make changes in your Schedule to accommodate your new habit
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Once you decided on the change you want to make, it is important to make few modifications in your environment and schedule to accommodate that change.
Example: If eating more vegetables is your goal you may be looking at an extra visit to the vegetable market which should be taken into account when you plan your week.
Similarly, if you decided on walking to your work, you may want to plan on getting up earlier than usual or keep your things ready the night before to save some time.
- Have a replacement to the bad habit that you are giving up
Giving up an old habit is equally difficult if not more difficult. You may need little help in the process. A good way to get rid of bad habits is to replace them with better habits.
If you are giving up smoking, it may be a good idea to resort to chewing gum or a mint every time you have the urge to smoke. Here you are replacing the smoking habit with another less harmful habit. Eventually you do not need gum to avoid lighting up a cigarette.
- Don’t be hard on yourself
Don’t be hard on yourself, if you drop the ball and miss your task few days.
Your first responsibility is to be kind to yourself when you fall short of your expectations on few days and move on to the next day as if nothing happened and give yourself a thousand second chances.
- Give some time
Though it is frequently said that if you stick to a new habit for 21 days, it becomes part of your routine, a study done in UK found that it may take up to 66 days for someone to make a new routine into a habit. So give yourself about 10 weeks to make a new thing in to new a habit.
Decades of psychological research consistently show that mere repetition of a simple action in a consistent context leads, through associative learning, to the action being activated upon subsequent exposure to those contextual cues.
So give the new habit some time. Remember, it took time to develop your bad habit, so it will take time to replace it with a new habit. Habits are life long processes, not one time events that are done and forgotten.
- Celebrate micro-wins
We often wait too long to celebrate.
Reward yourself with small gifts from time to time. Prizes are not just for the final end point. The whole idea is to bring some joy in to the whole process of lifestyle change.
Reward that is related to the goal will work as an additional motivation. Buying a new pair of walking shoes after 20 days of consistently sticking to the habit, may do wonders, if walking regularly is your goal.
- Don’t compare with others
Comparing your progress to your colleague’s or friend’s success in that area may lead to despair and discouragement.
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Adopting a new habit, whether it is bicycling for fitness or eating salads and soups for dinner, can be a great way to bond with a friend or family member you care about.
You can make the habit change together so that you can motivate each other.
Some people tend to give up if they are not able to keep up. If you feel that comparison is coming in the way of achieving your goal, it is best to fly solo.
Just because someone else reached a milestone before you doesn’t mean that you will not reach there too. When you make it into a race, the joy in the process is gone.
Lastly, You have an opportunity to revise the goals and change them to suit your current circumstances. As long as your ambition is to make positive changes in your life in a consistent manner, minor details of the change don’t matter.
-Dr. Lavanya Aribandi, Chief Medical Officer, eKincare