How to make a habit of sticking with new habits

by Jan 21, 2022Guest Blogs, Personal Development

As we near the end of January, I wonder how you’re getting on with your New Year’s resolutions and the positive habits you’re wanting to build into 2022.

Feeling confident?

Maybe you’re supremely confident that you won’t break any, or maybe you feel it’s already too late. I’m full of confidence, though this has absolutely nothing to do with personal resolve. It’s simply that I haven’t bothered to make any resolutions this year. And it seems I’m not alone!

As a Finder survey last December shows, only 54% of people in the UK intended to set themselves New Year’s resolutions for 2022, covering topics as diverse as career, love, money and health.

But previous years’ statistics tell a familiar story that making lasting change in our lives isn’t as easy as we’d like. Maybe that’s a key reason that enthusiasm for setting resolutions wanes as you get older – from 87% of Gen Z to only 17% of the ‘silent generation’.

My previous attempts to start running regularly or introduce other new habits have stumbled early on, generally before the end of January. It’s not been so much at the first hurdle, but more often on the first or second lap, as my motivation fades and my initial enthusiasm gives way to boredom.

But it’s in this arena of personal change that my executive and leadership coaching clients often find themselves.

Keeping motivated

First, there’s motivation to maintain. As in business, setting activities without a compelling underlying reason behind them is a recipe for long-term failure. Simon Sinek’s well-known ‘Golden Circle’ provides some help here. Knowing your ‘why’ (purpose) shapes your ‘how’ (strategy) which in turn drives your ‘what’ (actions). The recovering alcoholic I recently heard on BBC Radio 4 is a case in point – he had found a compelling reason to change which motivated him to overcome temptation. So, it can help to make resolutions that are more why-focussed than what-focussed.

Beating boredom

Second, there’s the challenge of overcoming boredom, which can set in all too easily with new routines. By having a clear purpose, you can plan to achieve your resolutions in a way that allows you variety in what you do and when you do it. It’ll also help you keep up momentum on those days when you don’t meet your own expectations, as you’re probably your own worst critic!

Finally, I’ve been inspired recently by a great little book called ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear, which is a must-read for anyone contemplating personal change, whether big or small. Such change doesn’t have to wait for a change in the calendar. It can start any time.

The book sets out 4 simple laws of how to create a good habit, which are to make it…

  1. …obvious
  2. …attractive
  3. …easy
  4. …satisfying

This may all sound like common sense, but the book goes beyond theory, giving practical and easy-to-implement advice about how to achieve this, as well as on breaking the bad habits that so often hold us back.

So, go on, make 2022 the year that you learn the habit of sticking with new habits, and ditching old ones, too.

Thank you, Mike

I’m delighted to have Mike Thorne as a guest blogger this week. Mike is an experienced executive coach and strategy consultant, as well as being a chartered engineer. If you are a director or senior leader with a technical, engineering or analytical background, Mike understands the unique way you think and the leadership challenges you face, so he is well-placed to help you gain new insights to take things forward.

To learn more and connect with Mike:

Mike’s webpage| Mike’s LinkedIn profile| Mike’s Facebook page

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