Many people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions because they try to overhaul their entire life all at once. While deciding that change is what you want is a great first step, the rest needs a little more finesse.
Trying to change too much is a recipe for failure. Having a larger vision is a great motivator but breaking it down into small and sustainable chunks willl make you more likely to be successful.
Change is hard! Even when the change is positive, it still takes time to adjust. Change is essentially creating new neural pathways in your brain and that’s why repetition is needed until it becomes a habit.
When habits form, it’s like being on autopilot and less effort is required to perform specific tasks. Autopilot is the brain’s way of being more efficient, so it can focus on other things. The first step to change is becoming aware of when you go on autopilot. Have you ever gotten into your car and arrived at a destination without remembering the journey? That’s autopilot at work.
Change happens in stages.
– In the first, precontemplation, people do not feel there is a need to change and so they have no intentions to do so.
– In the second, contemplation, they start thinking they might want to make some changes in the near future.
– In the third, preparation, they start taking action to implement those changes.
– In the fourth, action, they’re regularly taking action to make the changes. <6 months
– In the fifth, maintenance, they are maintaining those changes over the longterm. >6 months
There is also always the possibility of a relapse, meaning you may need to start again at an earlier stage. However, if you keep going, you’ll get back to the further stage again. This is a very normal part of change. In my experience, very few people manage to make a major change stick the first time around.
The easiest way to make a habit stick is to start small. Master one small habit at a time and then either build on it or add another. Adding another habit to one you have already formed is called habit stacking. Small habits add up over time and each small win will help keep the momentum going until you’ve reached the ideal lifestyle you were aiming for.
What is the smallest step you can take in the direction of your goals?
Let me know in the comments!