January is a month known to all for resolutions about behavior in the new year. In this month, above all others you will hear- “I want to lose weight” “I want to find a more fulfilling job” and “I want to exercise more”, to name just a few. Everyone wants a better life, but not everyone wants to do the work to make it happen. According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.
Resolutions are meaningless unless we have a plan of action for implementation. Your outcomes in life are a measure of your habits -for example— your weight is a measure of your eating and exercising habits. Change in your daily habits can produce a better outcome. A habit is defined by dictionary.com as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” We first need to look at all our habits during the day to assess where we are now before we can change. Most of our habits are automatic and have been in action for years and even decades. A great thing to do at the end of the day is to review the day and see what worked and what did not- Where you waste time or made that same mistake over again. If you can feel shame for that wasted time, or dishonest answer, you can change. Discipline, focus, sacrifice and commitment are needed to change bad habits. It take a series of repetitions for a new habit to form- not just one time this week and a few times next week. We also have to want that new habit more than the old one we are trying to break. We must want to be slimmer more than we want that piece of cake. A vision for how we will feel is often motivation for adapting a new habit. Patience is also key here- it takes time to see results. Things do not happen overnight- a strong business isn’t built in a few months. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The ultimate purpose of changing habits is to solve problems in life. Every problem in life comes with a solution. Changing habits are a solution. Time is our most precious commodity. How we spend our time is for the most part, habitual. We can be so much more productive in our lives if we examine where our time is going. This is crucial at the end of the work or school day, when we have the most free time. A habit can take just a few seconds, but it will impact the rest of the evening- for example watching video games vs doing homework. Or putting on workout clothes to go to the gym vs watching tv. When we realize there is no outcome or growth to watching tv, we can replace that habit by focusing on something that will bring us knowledge or benefit our health.
Habits are the most important factor when we speak about success in life. Habits are controlled by us and us alone- this is where we have some control in our lives and in our future. Every human can transform by changing basic habits. As Ernest Hemingway said, “True nobility is being superior to you former self”.