I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to reflect on the previous year and try to make some positive changes. I like to think of it as more of “course correction” or a “refinement” of what I am already doing than a “New Year’s Resolution.” Maybe it is just semantics, but that is how I think about it.
What ever you like to call it, changing habits requires a change in your mindset. You cannot just declare to “lose weight” or “spend less time working on the weekends” and have it magically happen — assuming of course you don’t have any unicorn dust. You have to change the patterns in your life; you have to change your “workflow.”
Here are five tips for reaching those new goals and starting good habits.
1. Leave It in Plain Sight — Or Hide It
Post It notes and desktop wallpaper are great for this. Keep your goal in front of you at all times. Like a runner running towards the finish line, keep your eye and mind on the goal you are trying to reach. Spell it out. Maybe a word or short sentence.
If you have a habit you are trying to curb, like eating junk food or checking your email too much, hide it! Do not buy junk food at the grocery store and logout of your email and turn-off notifications. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Only 21 Days
It only takes 21 days to begin building a habit and after 40-50 days, it will become engrained in you. Therefore, if you shoot for a goal of 30-days (or one month), you will be well on your way to establishing a healthy habit and reaching your goal. Overall, the hardest part in breaking bad habits and establishing new habits does not actually take a very long time — you can do it!
3. Remove Hurdles
When you try to change your flow, you are going to find hurdles popping up all around you. Before you begin, try to think of what may prevent you from your goal and be mindful that more will come up as you establish new patterns. When they do, remove them.
I wanted to stop checking my email so much, so I set it up away from my primary browser. Having to open a dedicated app for email keeps me from checking it too often. When I was trying to lose weight, I realized that the battle was won and lost at the grocery store. If you don’t buy it, it doesn’t come home, if it’s not at home, you can’t eat it. Hurdles removed!
Some tools that can be helpful are task lists, alarms and timers. If you want to read your devotional every day, add it to your task list. If you do not want to spend so much time on social media, set a timer. If you think you are going to need an extra ten minutes in the morning to do that devotional, change your alarm.
5. Put It On the Calendar
Set a start date and check each day you succeed. Measure your progress and don’t stop until you reach your goal!