Maybe you’re thinking right now about making new commitments and resolutions for the New Year. If so, you’re likely to spend some time putting together a list of new habits you want to adopt and old habits you want to break, such as addictive behaviors.
This is the Time of Year For Self-Reflection and Setting Goals
At the beginning of the year is a logical time to make some much-needed changes, especially when you need a solid starting point for breaking bad habits. It’s a fresh start, a way to self-motivate to analyze what went wrong or how you may have somehow sabotaged your efforts. It’s also a great time to figure out what’s important and what you hope to accomplish this year.
Setting goals is the only way to have a guideline or map to let you know how you’re progressing. If you include a mix of short-term and easier-to-achieve goals—along with your longer-term and likely more difficult ones, such as smoking or quitting junk food—you’ll be more likely to keep working on them.
You’ve Probably Made Commitments Before That Didn’t Work Out
Most people have a list of commitments they’ve attempted to keep and that didn’t work out as they’d hoped. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. In fact, the statistics on broken resolutions is fairly disconcerting. For example, an article in Business Insider highlights the estimate that up to 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Apparently, in one month’s time, many people lose interest or motivation in continuing to pursue the goals they so adamantly chose at the dawn of the new year.
Another interesting statistic comes from researchers at University College London, who found that it takes about 66 days to break a bad habit completely and likely much longer to master a new one. This likely applies to goals such as breaking addictive habits, as much as it does to breaking all habits, since when you commit to breaking a habit, you’ll need quite a bit of time for the new habit to “stick.”
Remember, just because you’ve made a pledge or committed to breaking habits before and gave up on it or the results weren’t satisfactory doesn’t mean you can’t tackle it again— with lessons learned from prior experience and a renewed determination to succeed.
What Makes Us Fail Our Goals?
There are many reasons why we may not be able to achieve our goals. This doesn’t mean we’re never going to be successful with a given goal, just that we may need to adopt a different mindset, vary our approach, streamline the goal, make it more realistic, or perhaps even broaden it. Some of the common reasons why we fail our goals include:
- The goal itself may be too lofty. We’re trying to reach for the stars and we haven’t secured the appropriate mechanism to get there. Maybe scale back a bit and start with something small.
- There’s no way to measure the goal to see if we’re close to achieving it. You must have measurement built into the goal pursuit process. Otherwise, you won’t know if you’re spinning away from the goal or coming near.
- Pursuit of the goal doesn’t allow for rewards. If the goal is an all-or-nothing concept, it may be too daunting, sapping motivation in the early stages of trying to achieve it. You need to include interim rewards to keep your enthusiasm high and encouraging you to tackle the tougher work that may come later.
Tips for Breaking a Bad Habit
If you want to live your best life in 2020, it’s best to have a good list of tips to help in breaking bad habits that have been holding you back from being the best you can be. Here are some workable tips to help you get started.
Fully Understand Your Goal – Including What You Want Out of It
Having only a vague notion of what you want to achieve isn’t likely to result in a successful outcome. Instead, you need to fully understand your goal. That includes every aspect of it that you can think of, from how this goal differs from similar goals you’ve had in the past, and that may have fallen by the wayside as impossible to achieve, to what specific measures you’ll use to determine whether you’re successful or not once you’ve seemingly achieved it. Be sure to zero in on what you want from the goal. For example, do you seek recognition, a career promotion, expanding your body of knowledge, mastering a new skill? Once you’re clear on your goal and your hopes for it, you’ll be ready to move on to other tips.
Pay Attention to What You Eat
Amazingly, when most people gear themselves up to breaking bad habits, they may give little thought to the role healthy eating plays in giving them an added motivation boost. It’s hard to focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, especially when you’re in the early days of adopting new resolution habits or somewhere in the middle of the 66 days it takes to breaking bad habits. Indeed, one of the common resolution habits is improving eating habits, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As you work on your healthy eating habits, the CDC recommends:
- Replacing unhealthy eating habits with new, healthier ones.
- Eating only when you’re hungry.
- Eat slower.
- Plan your meals ahead of time.
Take a Tech Break
Technology is so much a part of your life today— sometimes too much so. If you find yourself compelled to constantly check your emails, social media posts, or can’t go to sleep without your smartphone nearby so you are instantly notified of updates or incoming emails, you really need a tech break. How can you get sufficient sleep so your mind is clear and you can devote your attention during waking hours to breaking bad habits, commit to breaking a habit, let alone adopting resolution habits, if your mind is fuzzy from too much tech distraction? Keep in mind that a tech break isn’t forever. You’re just giving yourself a slight hiatus from all that connectedness. The result will be much less stress and a clearer focus.
Mindfulness is a Terrific Assist
When you’re working on breaking bad habits, adopting healthy new ones, coping with addictive habits you’re diligently trying to overcome, mindfulness can be a tremendous help. Significantly, mindfulness meditation, mindfulness practice, being mindful while you eat, and valuing mindfulness in everyday life pays dividends regardless of whether you can immediately measure outcomes or not. For example, mindfulness can help you detach from thoughts and connect to the present.
Some Habits Do Require Professional Help
Keep in mind that you may have some habits that seem impervious to actions to change them. This includes addictive habits and behaviors caused by mental disorders. Yet, all is not hopeless, even if you’ve experienced this several times and are currently in recovery. If you’re worried that you’re running into another deadend in your goal to quit drinking, for example, or you can’t talk yourself out of your anxious thoughts or periods of depression, consider seeking help from a medical or mental health professional. Indeed, this can be a worthy goal on its own and shows you’re serious about breaking bad habits or addictive habits that could keep you from living your best life in 2020.