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How to Create Lasting Habits

Have you set your New Year's Resolutions yet?

It’s okay if you haven’t, they’re a bit overrated anyway. We put way too much pressure on a day on a calendar.

In fact, around 80% of New Year's Resolutions fail, with most in the dust by March.

If you want to create lasting habits and change for the better, it’s definitely attainable, and I’ve got some tips on how to make change that sticks.

First, level up your goal setting game.

1. Be specific and action-based in your goals.

One reason why resolutions often don’t work out is we set goals that are vague and immeasurable. For example, setting a goal to ‘be healthier’ doesn’t have anything to be accountable for or any way to track your progress. It also doesn’t include any sort of action, so there is no path to the goal of ‘healthier.’ The same goes for goals like ‘lose 50 lbs’-- there is no action associated with this, so you’re likely to give up.

Instead, sit with your goal and figure out what it is you specifically want to achieve, and what actions will get you there.

2. Set small, attainable goals.

Another of the biggest reasons new year resolutions fail is because people often create completely unrealistic goals. Setting a goal to work out every day is a massive commitment to chew all at once and you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and give up.

When you set goals start small with something you know you can commit to, but that also challenges you. For example, if you want to start exercising, start off with a commitment to workout 1-2 times a week. Going right from nothing to every day is unrealistic. Set yourself up for success! Our brains work better with “wins” and so your goals should be achievable without having to strive too much.

It’s also a lot easier to commit to something for a period of time, than forever. Habits are shown to take 90 days to form, so try committing to something new for 90 days, and the odds are, you’ll feel so great that you’ll want to continue.

3. Increase your goals gradually.

As you begin to master the goal you’ve set, celebrate your win, and then adjust to a new bite-sized goal that pushes you a little further. For example, once working out twice a week feels like a breeze, add another day, and so on.

4. Take on one goal at a time.

I recommend steering clear of trying to overhaul your whole life all at once. Choose one change that is most important to you, and focus on that until you’re in a good groove, and then begin to introduce another change. Remember, the key is creating changes that stick.

5. Be willing to adjust your goals, lovingly.

If your goals aren’t working for you, have the compassion with yourself to adjust to something that is more loving. This isn’t about giving up or self-sabotage, this is about being fluid and able to adjust your plan in order to succeed. For example, if you set a goal to workout twice per week, and when you start it becomes overwhelming, consider making the goal once per week instead. You will have a better chance of sticking with it if you adjust and make it easy for you to succeed.

Have an accountability system in place.

1. Have an accountability buddy.

Having someone to be accountable to other than yourself is a great way to keep you on track. We tend to back out of things when we just promise ourselves as we think ‘who’s going to know’, but as soon as someone else is expecting us to show up, it makes us a lot more likely to follow through.

Have a friend or family member be your gym buddy, or have weekly ‘progress’ check-ins with your trainer or therapist.

2. Have a support system to work through your mental blocks and sabotage patterns

If you keep coming up against mental blocks and sabotage patterns, it’s a great idea to have a professional support system in place if you’re really struggling. Someone like a coach, trainer, or therapist can help you in examining why you keep getting in your way and dispel any limiting beliefs that are keeping you from following through with your goals.

Sometimes things can actually be a lot more complex than just lacking discipline, and deeper space may need to be held if you’re really coming up against a wall.

3. Be kind to yourself

This is probably the most important piece. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s never all or nothing, and progress should always come before perfection. If you slip up or fall off the wagon, acknowledge what happened and why. It’s an opportunity to grow even more and avoid the same pitfall in the future. Be kind and compassionate with yourself, and keep going. Progress is never lost, but perfection is an impossible standard.

Wishing you success in your continual expansion this year!