⚡ Try a simple alternative to New Year's resolutions — make things simpler and increase your chances of success.

Fireworks above a line of trees - representing a New Year's resolution

An alternative New Year’s resolution | Blog Post by Rob Crews

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions – it’s too easy to overwhelm yourself, become disheartened and give up. So I’ve been trying an alternative method.

 

30-day substitutions

A year is a long time to wait for gratification. I find it much easier to cut the year into bitesize chunks and achieve something significant every month rather than a handful of achievements for the whole year.

Here’s the idea:

  1. For each month, pick a new habit you would like to form (habit 1)
  2. Pick an existing habit you would like to rid yourself of or change (habit 2)
  3. Think of a way to link the two habits so that you can replace habit 2 with habit 1

 

Here’s an example

If you would like to 1) spend less time on Facebook and 2) learn a new language, you could make a rule that whenever you feel the urge to open Facebook on your phone, you instead open a language app like Memrise and spend 5 minutes on it.

It won’t always make it easy, but I find that the promise of something new (rather than just something being taken away) can make it much easier to stay motivated.

 

Stick with it for 30 days

This is the most important part. Make sure that you stick with the habit for a full 30 days.

That will get you over the initial difficulty of getting into a new routine and should leave you much closer to having a fully formed habit.

 

Try a new combination every month

Focus on one pair of habits each month — don’t overload yourself and don’t rush.

If the end of the month comes and you’re feeling like it’s still taking some serious effort to keep your new habit going, let it be your focus again for the next month. Things take time — you’ve got to be patient and make sure you form the new habit fully.

If, however, you feel like you’ve got there with it, pick a new pair of habits for the new month.

It’s not about changing as many habits as you can in as short a time as possible; it’s about making sustainable changes.

 

Celebrate

Make sure that you celebrate at the end of each month!

This isn’t just for fun. Our brains rely heavily on the hormone dopamine for keeping motivated and celebrating achievements releases dopamine. You’ll feel the pleasure of being satisfied with your achievement and feel extra motivation for the next month.


Also published on Medium.