At the start of the year, everyone and their dog are setting New Year’s Resolutions- most of which are doomed to fail from the first time they are uttered after one too many glasses of bubbly.

Oh, hark at me, all doom and gloom!

Resolutions can work if they are done properly you just need habits that stick (see last week’s series on goals, it’s basically the same thing!)

But with resolutions often you need to implement a new habit or break an old one.

And that’s where things start to get icky!

How long does it take for a new habit that sticks?

There are lots of rumours about how long it takes habits that stick but the real truth is… it depends!

Yup, it depends on many factors from home motivated you are to how much peer pressure you are under. Whether an addiction (say giving up smoking) is part of the equation and how difficult the actual new habit is to implement.

These are 3 things you absolutely must have and then we’ll look at some techniques to help make it happen.

⭐️ Intrinsic motivation

That force within you, deep inside that wants this thing to happen, how strong is it on a scale of 1 -10? If you are not intrinsically motivated then your chances of sticking to your resolution have just drastically dropped. If you are on a 10 then way to go, you have a really high chance of succeeding.

⭐️ Systems

Do you have a system, whether it be an accountability buddy or an app or something else that is going to help you stay on track and help you create habits that stick?

⭐️ Realistic and achievable

Climbing Mount Everest at the end of the year when you get out of puff when walking up the steps to the pub is a little bit too much of a stretch goal. Make it achievable and break it down so you can easily hit the milestones and you are much more likely to stick with it.

Techniques to help you stick to your new habit

Not all these are for everyone. You know yourself best, what do you need to help you win?

The phrase Habit Stacking was coined by best-selling author S.J Scott in his book Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes Or Less.

The theory is that you attach a new habit to one that already exists. It can also be called Sticky Habits.

For example:

✅ Existing Habit + New Habit = Sticky habit
✅ After washing the dishes + I will wipe down the oven.
✅ Before I go to bed + I will cleanse my face and put on night cream.
✅ Before each meal + I will drink a glass of water.

Habit stacking works if you keep each habit small and doable.

The small wins help build momentum because they are easy to remember and complete. This fits perfectly with the kaizen philosophy of making a small improvement every day.

Gamification to make habits that stick

New habit already slipping?

Try This!

How are you going to stay passionate and focused?

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power Of Habit says “Habits are not conscious decisions, but instead are routines. Once we start the routine, we go on autopilot and simply go through the steps of the routine – we don’t even think about it. This means that you need to establish a routine for the habit you want to add.”

Gamification as explained in Nir Eyal’s book Hooked, has become very popular over the last few years in a none gaming context to improve user engagement, organizational productivity and rewards from drinking coffee to reducing traffic violations.

Combining gamification with habit-forming can be a fun way to produce the results that you want.

It is a good idea to think of some kind of reward system which will help you to form your habits and reach your goals. These rewards need to be personal to you.  

Rewards that don’t excite you are not going to motivate you to complete your task.

You also need to keep in mind that the reward should be suitable for the habits that you are forming, rewarding yourself with a piece of chocolate cake for sticking to your diet is undoing the good work that you’ve done. <– Thanks, Captain Obvious!

There always needs to be intrinsic motivation for this to be truly successful.

These types of rewards often don’t work with kids because there is no intrinsic motivation but as adults, we are able to set our own motivators.

Asian kid surrounded by sticky notes.

Try the Break the chain method

The story goes that a young comedian Brad Isaac asked Jerry Steinfeld who was a touring comic at the time, what was the best way to become a better comedian.

Steinfeld told Brad that he writes every day and to pressure himself into sticking to it he used, what is now known as the Break The Chain method.

Put a calendar up and each day you write, cross out the day with a big red marker.

Your only job is not to break the chain. Of course, the longer the chain gets the more pressure you have on yourself to not break it. For some people, this really helps create habits that stick. But it does have the downside that if you slip up once, you may give up. Have something in place to stop that from happening.

Daily action is what forms habits so you can use this to make a new habit, of daily writing 1000 words for example or to break a habit, of eating biscuits with your 3 pm cuppa!

This works best if you have the calendar up there for everyone to see. Not hidden away in the back of your desk drawer!

Calendar and time clock

Do this one with whatever system you choose

Often, we overcomplicate things, and the best way to make a new habit stick is to keep things simple.

A huge problem many of us face these days is “decision fatigue” this refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made over the course of a day.

Decision fatigue is now known to be the cause of irrational decision-making, such as choosing cheesecake at night instead of a piece of fruit. You know the fruit is better for you but, by the end of the day, you’re tired and just take the easy route.

It’s more about bad decision-making than willpower.

Think about your new habit, what decisions do you have to take to make it happen?

What can you do to reduce the chance of making a bad decision?

How can you make it so simple, make it a no-brainer to stick with?

For example: Have a meal plan stuck to the fridge so you don’t have to decide each meal time what to eat. And don’t buy the cheesecake! (you can download a free meal planner from the free resource library here)

This might seem like a stupidly simple thing to do but it is one that many people overlook. Don’t be those people, be the smart cookie!

Jojo Ebisujima

If you have got to this point and you are thinking, yes, this is all well and good but I need more help…

Then you are in just the right place!

You can join us in The Wonder Mom Success Club for daily check-ins and a community of moms who will help you along, I am also in there daily. Or you can take it up a notch and join SPARK Mastermind which also includes 1:1 sessions, group mastermind calls and weekly workalong sessions. These are perfect for those who work from home but miss the office!


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