Transforming Resolutions to Lasting Habits, Part 1December 29 , 2011

Does your New Year’s resolution list look like this?

“Exercise 5 days a week.  Eat only healthy food.  Lose 25 pounds.  Be more patient.  Cure cancer.  Negotiate world peace. Etc. Etc.”

Or maybe you don’t make resolutions because you’ve never kept them for more than two weeks (two days?) in the past.

Long-term, sustainable change is hard.  We are creatures of habit; in fact, studies suggest that only 5% of our actions are consciously chosen.  We build strong neuro-pathways over years of repetition that make it so much easier to keep doing things the way we always have – scanning Facebook instead of meditating, pushing the snooze button instead of going for a run, or watching 30 more minutes of TV instead of going to bed.  We have sadly limited stores of discipline to overcome that inertia of do-it-like-we-always-do.

The good news is that a lot of research has been done on ways to make change stick.   With some concerted effort and focus, we can literally rewire our brain, developing and strengthening neuro-pathways towards habits that we want in our lives.  Over time and with consistent practice, the new pathway can become the default, the path of least resistance.  Then this new desired habit can become as ingrained as brushing your teeth before you go to bed.

Here are three proven steps to making lasting change.  Next week, I’ll share the next four steps and am also offering a free teleclass to help you develop YOUR detailed implementation plan.  Details and signup information are below.

1.       Pick one thing to change at a time. Seriously.  Just ONE and commit to it.  Developing a single new habit (and the neuro-pathways to support it) is hard.   Trying to change more than one thing at a time dilutes your effort and significantly increases the likelihood of failing which can lead to losing a sense of control and potentially giving up on making any change.  So prioritize the most important habit you want to bring into your life.  If done right, these changes can last a lifetime.

2.      Give yourself two months to make one change.  The research shows that it takes 30-60 days to make a new habit stick — to fully rewire your brain.  Give yourself enough time to really lock in the new desired behavior.

3.      Start easy. Take whatever goal you have, whatever habit you want to form and find an easy way to start – put on your running shoes and just make it out the front door, meditate for 60 seconds, do 2 short minutes of uninterrupted writing.  Stick with this initial goal for a few days.  By setting, achieving and celebrating small victories, our brains get the message that we are on track, that we are making progress and that builds our confidence, our sense of control and our focus.  Then add a little distance to your running or a little time to your meditation or focused writing.  The key is to make each step easily do-able from where you are now.

“Incremental change is better than ambitious failure”
– Tony Schwartz, author of the Power of Full Engagement

Decide and get started THIS WEEK.  Take January 1st to recover from ringing in the New Year, but make it happen on the 2nd (and 3rd and 4th).  Then join us on the 5th for a:

Free ‘Transforming Resolutions to Lasting Habits’ Teleclass, Jan 5 at 6pm PT (9pm ET)

Are you serious about making your resolutions stick?  I’m offering a FREE TELECLASS on this topic next Thursday evening (January 5) at 6pm PT (9pm ET).  Bring your resolutions with you and some blank paper.  Together we will develop a specific plan to integrate this new habit into your life.  If you want to join the call, sign up at the link below and I’ll forward you the call-in information.

Free teleclass link:

I know with busy lives and the start of the new year, some of you may not be able to join us for the call.  I don’t want you to miss this great opportunity to create lasting change, so I will be recording the call.  If you sign up on the form at the link above I will forward you the recording.

As an extra gift for signing up for the teleclass I will put you on the Happiness Infusion email list (if you are not already on it!).  These short weekly emails are full of tips and tools from the science of happiness that will go directly to your inbox each week.

Eric Karpinski
The Happiness Coach

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