As the year comes to a close, many of us start to plan lofty New Year’s resolutions. Next year, we tell ourselves, will be the year of eating healthier, sleeping more, and finally following through on that idea. But then these shiny new resolutions fall apart under the weight of logistics and the frustration over a lack of progress. We go back to stress snacking and getting five hours of sleep. That idea in the back of our heads stays an idea.
But there are everyday, scientifically-proven actions you can take to avoid this sad fate and make sure your resolution sticks into a habit.
1) Break your plan down into manageable parts
You begin with making your resolution approachable instead of insurmountable. That happens when you break down your big-picture plans into manageable bites that will not overwhelm you and slow down your momentum. Management consultant Michelle Bryant firmly believes that any plan can be broken down into 10-minute increments, or else it should be delegated to someone else.
Tips blog Dumb Little Man suggests asking yourself “What are its component parts? What will be the real effort required?” Then you start with the easiest answer to complete from these questions. That way you get your momentum going quickly.
2) Use if-then planning
Reframing your plan into if-then statements helps you build one-time actions into a behavioral chain reaction that becomes a habit, studies have found. One study on habit formation suggested that “linking behaviors to work-day cues worked well due to their stability and predictability” The study’s participants who had the most success with their goals used the built-in rhythms of their workday to keep them accountable. They didn’t just have a goal, they had a realistic plan designed around their jobs. They worked out when they finished their jobs Read More Here