We’ve all done it. We’ve all made a New Year’s resolution, and within a matter of weeks (or days), we’ve already broken our promise to ourselves. You’re not alone, and you must remember you’re not perfect. You’re human.
And, with being human, it’s fact that both memory and motivation will fail you. That is why the art of forming a new habit has a scientifically proven method that we at the office of Dr. Marchbanks are here to share with you!
We want you to feel good about yourself in this new year…which means forgiving yourself for falling through on those New Year’s resolutions, and jumping back on that proverbial bicycle of habit and becoming the better you that you envision.
You don’t have to wait another 365 days in order to create those resolutions of change, whether it be doing 100 sit ups daily, flossing once a day (our favorite), or saving more money each week.
The “secret” to creating any habit (whether good or bad) is actually entirely scientific. It has to do with the framework around a habit. Allow us to explain.
How forming habits works
As Stanford Professor BJ Fogg, Charles Duhigg (best-selling author of The Power of Habit) and James Clear from JamesClear.com explain, there are three patterns that surround a habit:
- The spark that initiates the behavior
- The actual behavior (the action)
- The benefit you gain from doing the behavior
James Clear refers to this pattern as “The 3 Rs.” Reminder, Routine and Reward.
Think of it like this…A ding alert for the arrival of an important email goes off. That’s the spark – the (1) reminder. Then you have two (2) actions you can take: reply to the email or ignore/procrastinate responding. The (3) reward for your action? Well, depending on the behavior you chose, that dictates your “reward.” When it comes to emails, if you respond, you’ll keep a progressive thread going (i.e., handling business, perhaps); and if you don’t respond, well…you’ve just prolonged something that may need attention, stalling other areas of your life.
So, it goes to show that if you create a positive reward for yourself you are likely to repeat the behavior. Repeat it enough times and you’ve just created yourself a habit!
But…what if it’s not that simple?
Now you ask how to implement this habit format into your life when it comes to a resolution or resolutions.
Well, if memory and motivation fail you…set yourself up for success – create a reminder.
For example: If you want to get in those 100 sit ups per day and want to be able to clean up after doing them, what about doing your 100 sit ups before you get in the shower? You have to take a shower every day (or so we hope you do), so what better reminder to initiate your action? And the reward? Tighter abs in due time.
Studies show there is power in tiny gains. As one of our favorites says: “Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.” – Jim Rohn
We suggest if you’re trying to complete 100 sit ups daily, maybe start with just 10 a day before your shower. Start small and gradually improve every day. Make it so easy you can’t say no. Add five per day. As you add more of a challenge each day your reward center in your brain will begin to feel great about this, empowering you to complete more every day and follow through on your habit.
If your habit has to do with money – find what works for you and what reminder is going to trigger your action. It depends on your job and whether you get a direct deposit of income or walk with cash tips – whatever way you get paid, make the habit of auto-saving, even if you just take a portion of your earnings and divvy it up appropriately toward your goals.
Willpower is like a muscle, so start small and break the habit into chunks if necessary. Do 50 sit-ups before your shower, and 50 sit ups before bed. Save $20 per week and then in a couple months bump it up to $50 per week. Be reasonable with your goals.
The last thing to remember
And lastly, if you slip up, get back on track quickly. Never let a missed habit happen two times in a row. That is what can derail all efforts you’ve made. One public sociologist named Christine Whelan says it takes 90 days before a habit becomes a lifestyle. So, how long are you willing to give your new habit a try?
We hope you are having a bright and successful new year, and want you to remember success is the result of a thousand failures. If you’ve fallen off the New Year’s resolution bandwagon, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing—we just want you to know how to make better habits, we hope that we’ve enlightened you a little.
Don’t forget about your healthy teeth habits, too! We’ll see you soon!
Also published on Medium.