Most people start the New Year with personal goals—to lose weight, to go to the gym more consistently, to complete household projects, etc. The same is true for people in business. They want to procrastinate less, increase performance, learn a new skill and communicate more effectively. So how do these goals or New Year’s resolutions turn into a reality?
The answer lies in forming new habits. Here’s how to do it:
1. Be patient but diligent. According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes about two months for a new behavior to become a habit. Don’t give up after a few short weeks.
2. Focus on progress, not perfection. In psychology, there is a term called “successive approximations,” which means you keep trying, and every day you get a little better. In other words, if you go off your diet, miss a day at the gym or don’t get a report in on time, you’re not a failure. Pick yourself up and start fresh the next day.
3. Write down the goal or behavior you want to change or develop. Post it on your computer, laptop, cell phone, mirror or someplace else where you can see it regularly. It will serve as a constant reminder of what you are working toward.
4. Acknowledge progress and new behavior. It’s important to give credit where credit is due. Think about how your new habit, skill set or accomplishment makes you feel. Accomplishment builds confidence and self-esteem.
Creating New Habits
While changing old habits is not easy and requires a lot of mental energy, you can be successful. Remember the words of Gandhi, “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” These timeless words of wisdom can give us the strength and courage to make the changes we seek to turn our New Year’s resolutions into new habits of which we can be proud.