Hello 2020: New Year, New Habits

Oh those indulgent pleasures of the holiday season! More food than we can ever eat, more things than we can ever use, more time wasted that we can ever win back. No wonder that, come New Year’s Eve, we are all ready to enter into sainthood. Yes, it’s resolution season!

But this time, I challenge you to take a different approach. Instead of making resolutions about the goals you want to achieve, try using your New Year resolutions to define new habits which will make any goal you set yourself just that much more achievable. 

Yes, that right: focus your attention not on the end result but on the new habits that will help you hit those targets. Habits are just our brain’s way of creating simple shortcuts so that when we adopt a new routine, it requires less effort and becomes kind of automated over time. Charles Duhigg in his 2014 bestseller, “The Power of Habit” writes about the three point loop that reinforces our habits: the cue which triggers us to seek a reward, which then develops into a routine as we start to crave that reward. And thus, a habit is formed.

So this year, try harnessing the powerful force of habit to create more intentionality in your life and lifestyle. To inspire you, here are some ideas for habits linked to five common New Year’s resolutions:

Find a new job

  • Build your personal brand by showcasing your expertise with posts and replies on social media every day 
  • Commit to one designated day each week in which you research job boards and review job search alerts, apply to potential jobs, reach out to potential employers, or attending job interviews
  • Actively maintain your career relationships by reaching out to at least one person in your network every week or attending a relevant industry event every month to mingle with peers and potential employers

Read more

  • Commit to a daily reading habit, e.g. 30 minutes during your commute to work or 20 pages a day instead of watching television
  • Challenge yourself to read one book per month for the whole year. Be inspired by the book tips in your favourite news/ industry journals. Habit expert James Clear, has a great recommended reading list on his website.
  • Find someone to be your book buddy and schedule a monthly catch up to chat about the books you are reading

Improve finances

  • Set aside a weekly admin hour to plan and review your spending – e.g. cancel unnecessary subscriptions, move to cheaper offers, search for the best deals on larger purchases or adjust your budget and savings plan
  • Commit to a weekly or monthly sum that you will use to pay off any credit card or loan debts and track your debt reduction
  • Set weekly or monthly savings goals based on savings you make by changing your daily spending choices – e.g. store-bought vs homemade, new vs. second hand, premium brands vs. basics

Lose weight

  • Establish to a routine in which you eat meals at roughly at the same time every day with no snacking in between – or second helpings
  • Eat at least two servings of a variety of different vegetables each day
  • Set a dedicated indulgence day each week and on all other days indulge your sweet tooth with one piece of whole fruit (not fruit juice or smoothies)

Quit smoking or drink less alcohol

  • Commit to a daily morning routine to get yourself into a non-smoking or non-drinking mindset for the day. For example: a 20 minute jog around the block, 15 minute journaling session, 10 minute meditation
  • Write a daily log of the situations that trigger your particular craving and reflect on on what you could do to reduce or avoid those triggers 
  • Download an app like SmokeFree or Nomo to help you track your milestones and achievements, become more accountable to yourself and motivate you to stay on track

I give the last word to James Clear with this excerpt from his book Atomic Habits

Habits are the compound interest of self‐improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.

On that note, hello 2020!

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