It’s National Quitter’s Day! The day when everyone quits their New Year’s resolutions. I had no idea there was such a day. As a nation we should be embarrassed. It’s only January 13th and already we’re throwing in the towel. We’re deciding to eat the brownie, skip the gym, sleep past our alarms, or buying the things we don’t need but so desperately want. Really? It hasn’t even been two weeks.
Behavior change is difficult and multifaceted because it requires us to disrupt a current habit while simultaneously fostering a new, possibly unfamiliar, one. It’s a process that takes time. But it’s doable! I used to think it took 21 days to establish a new habit, but in recent research, I learned on average it takes 66 days. That’s right – it takes over 2 months for a new behavior to become automatic. Not 13 days! And in many instances, it may take longer than those average 66 days depending on the habit, you’re wishing to build, change, or improve. It might take all 365 days of 2023, and that’s ok. Stay committed to yourself. Show yourself some grace, re-establish that new year’s motivation, and keep going.
When creating new habits, there will always be slip-ups. That is expected. Don’t judge yourself. Looking at your long-term goals, one or two mistakes along the way will have no impact. But allowing those slip-ups to become intentional, reoccurring, or an excuse to give up entirely leads to reverting to old habits. Don’t give up because you made one bad decision, had a moment of weakness, or gave up for a day. Don’t allow your disappointments today to carry into another day. Not all is lost. Get back on track today. Don’t allow discouragement to settle in when results aren’t yet noticeable or when temptation attempts to take over. It’s a process that usually takes longer than we prefer.
A few ways to help you turn that New Year’s resolution into an automatic habit are: 1) Create strategies for getting back on track when you slip-up. Don’t allow one slip-up to turn into a day, week, or month of slip-ups. 2) Find a supportive social network that has a similar mindset. This is more than having someone to hold you accountable, it’s about creating a circle of individuals you can emulate. 3) Make it a routine. We are creatures of habit, so we need to find a way to make room for incorporating our new years resolution into our existing daily routine. 4) Make it fun! It must be something we want to do and enjoy doing. 5) Practice on repeat until it is enacted with minimum conscious awareness or physical effort. Habits are formed from repetition. 6) Be realistic and patient with your resolution (and yourself). It takes time for your new habit to become automatic.
The current habit you are resolving to improve has years of programming behind it. To improve, change, or overwrite that programming, you need to establish a connection between the brain and the reward it receives for performing the new habit. Basically, give yourself that dopamine high, we all love!
Creating new habits take commitment and desire. It isn’t always easy but if it’s a habit you wish to create, change, or improve, then you’ll put in the work to see the difference. Success is about creating habits.
“In a nutshell, your health, wealth, happiness, fitness, and success depend on your habits.”