Did you know that around 80 per cent of people give up on their New Years’ resolutions by mid-February?1 That’s why it’s the perfect time to think about the good habits you want to adopt in 2022 – and how you plan to make them stick.
So, why is changing habits so difficult?
When presented with a problem that requires behavioural change, we usually think big. “All or nothing”, “go big or go home” and similar expressions about over-achievement make this clear. Unfortunately, setting extravagant goals isn’t a realistic approach to achieving them. This is because habits form in our behaviour and memory systems as a result of thinking, feeling and acting in a particular way over a period of time. These habits become ingrained and embedded in our behaviour – making change a difficult journey.2
Although a tough process, change is certainly not impossible. Here are four effective ways to successfully adopt new habits in 2022:
1. Establish realistic micro habits
Although it’s great to dream big, starting small is key. Micro habits are tiny components of a larger habit. Want to read more books this year? Rather than planning for 30 minutes of reading each day, start with 5 minutes per day. You’ll know you’ve reached the level of a micro habit when you think “that’s so ridiculously small, it’s not worth doing”.3 Increase the micro habit when it feels effortless for at least two weeks in a row. Remember to increase it only by around 10 per cent.
2. Anchor new habits to existing routines
To remain consistent, create a prompt or anchor to remind you. By combining your new micro habit (i.e. doing five lunges a day) with an already established daily activity (i.e. brushing your teeth), you naturally incorporate them into your routine. If you benefit from visual prompts, place sticky notes with reminders where you plan to complete your new micro habit.
3. Find ways to be accountable
No matter how small your goal is, you’re less likely to succeed if you don’t track and review your progress frequently. Create a ‘Yes List’ by writing down your micro habits each day in a notebook and mark a ‘yes’ if you’ve completed it or ‘no’ if you haven’t. This may reveal patterns on what could be driving or hindering your success. It also helps to share your goals with other people. Creating a community of support will compel you to make progress that you can report in.
4. Use positive emotions to wire new behaviours
When you carry out a behaviour successfully, your brain releases neurochemicals that make you feel good.4 That strong positive reaction helps wire the habit. Celebrating or rewarding your success can make the process more enjoyable.
For everything you need to support you in reaching your goals for the New Year, we’ve got you covered. Stock up on our range of workplace essentials online.
1Tabaka, M., 2019, ‘Most people fail to achieve their new year’s resolutions. For success, choose a word for the year instead’, <https://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/why-set-yourself-up-for-failure-ditch-new-years-resolution-do-this-instead.html>
2Jaffe, A., 2019, ‘Why Is It So Hard To Change Bad Habits?’, <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/all-about-addiction/201903/why-is-it-so-hard-change-bad-habits>
3Nawaz, S., 2020, ‘To achieve big goals, start with small habits’, <https://hbr.org/2020/01/to-achieve-big-goals-start-with-small-habits>
4Wilding, M., 2020, ‘Forget Big Goals–Why Tiny Habits Change Everything, According to a Stanford Behavioral Scientist’, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/melodywilding/2020/01/13/forget-big-goalswhy-tiny-habits-change-everything-according-to-a-stanford-psychologist/?sh=532e3f316adc>