By Stephanie Marshall, Toronto based Master Alignment Coach
The Annual Habit Resets
How great are your intentions?
Do you make bold promises to yourself about resetting habits and not follow through?
How many “shoulds” do you leave on the table every year?
It’s that reset time of year and I don’t want you to fall into any traps. I’m going to tell you what the people who are doing it wrong are doing and what you can do to succeed (even if you haven’t succeeded in the past)!
What often happens when people decide it’s time for resetting habits
- Feel bad and vow to change:
They feel bad about themselves, possibly a dash of shame about their habits, and they conclude that they need to do something about it because they don’t want to keep feeling this way.
- Make big plans:
They make a plan to stop all of the bad habits and replace them with tremendous habits. They fantasize about the best results. This is the exciting part. Fun fact: making plans can give us a dopamine hit and people can be satisfied and become addicted to the planning phase for this reason.
- Set start date or “tomorrow”:
They set the date to begin and start anticipating how hard it is going to be and try to gather as much willpower and motivation as they can.
- Rely on willpower and motivation:
The date comes and they white knuckle the new habits. It’s hard and they might persevere until life gets in the way or they get too exhausted. They get off track they give up and resolve to reset again when the time is right.
Resetting habits for lasting change looks different:
- Stop judging and figure out what you want:
Judging yourself and jumping into planning and action will help you escape feeling bad in the short term but won’t help you in the long term. It’s important to really explore what it is that you don’t like and what you want. What could it actually be like? What would it take to get there? Do you want it more than you want to not feel shitty about yourself? You need to figure this out before you start planning and then focus on what you want more than on what you want to escape.
- Collecting data + planning:
No matter how much you want to escape from what’s really going on denial never works (I tested it). It’s only from an honest assessment of where you are right now that you will figure out what steps you need to take. But what if instead of being hard on yourself and judging you thought of it as collecting data points?
Setting a future date or “tomorrow” feels safe and we can feel good about ourselves without even doing anything. Win! But why not start now? If you think it’s “too hard to start now” dive deeper. Do you think you will feel differently in the future? What will you do if obstacles come up and you feel unmotivated? Think this through and make decisions.
- Consistency and adjust as needed:
Resetting sounds like a one-and-done but we aren’t robots. To create lasting change you will need to have hundreds of little resets to keep going in the right direction and that doesn’t mean you are failing. With every little reset, you want to collect data about what worked and what didn’t so that you can make new decisions (don’t get caught in the Trying to Try Loop where you just keep telling yourself “this time I mean it”).
Making changes in your life and resetting habits is not “pass or fail”, it’s about consistently building momentum in the right direction. It’s simple but not always easy and it takes consistent effort, which sounds so boring but the results are the opposite of boring. One more thing: Don’t try to change everything at once. I’ve tested that about a million times and it doesn’t work no matter how motivated you are when you plan it.
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