The New Year is nearing quickly and with that comes an oft old tradition of New Year's Resolutions. Many people are already indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices, especially this year which has thrown us a true curveball. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity to start making the changes that did not come about in the previous year or lifetime. Those that were intended for last week last summer or last year. However, once made how do we make them stick around past January?
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, is a #1 New York Times bestselling writer and writes about habits, decision making, and continuous improvement. It occurred to us that a New Year’s resolution is basically a new habit that you want to stick. So we consulted James’ theories and have these top tips for making habits stick.
James believes that all habits proceed through four stages in the same order: cue, craving, response, and reward and that this four-step pattern is the backbone of every habit, and your brain runs through these steps in the same order each time. First, there is the cue. The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior. Cravings are the second step of the habit loop, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. The third step is the response. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Finally, the response delivers a reward. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit. Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start.
James believes we can transform these four steps into a practical framework that we can use to design good habits and eliminate bad ones. He refers to this framework as the Four Laws of Behavior Change, and it provides a simple set of rules for creating good habits and breaking bad ones. He believes that when the levers are in the right positions, creating good habits is effortless. When they are in the wrong positions, it is nearly impossible.
Whenever you want to change a habit ask yourself:
How can I make it obvious?
How can I make it attractive?
How can I make it easy?
How can I make it satisfying?
A common New Year’s Resolution for many is to lose weight. If we consider the actions to lose weight in James’ framework it would be to focus on the habits that will lead to success which may be different for everyone. If working out will contribute to your New Year's Resolution then try putting it in the framework above. Make it obvious by understanding that fitness combined with healthy eating leads to weight loss. Make it attractive by visualizing a new you. Make it easy by removing obstacles for you to work out, have your work out video cued, clothing laid out. Make it satisfying by listening to your favorite podcast only when you work out. Or, consider rewarding yourself with an indulgent recovery bath bomb, like OOOH CBD Recovery Bath Bomb to relieve sore muscles, keep you feeling great and remove excuses related to being sore and stiff that may keep you from achieving your goals.
We can all change habits and replace poor habits with new healthy ones. Start considering your New Year's Resolutions today so that your new goals can be supported with habits that stick.