With a digital swipe of the calendar page, here we are at the start of a brand new year, full of possibilities. This seems like the perfect time to explore the power of New Year’s resolutions.
After all, THIS will be the year you exercise more, eat healthier, put more into savings and actually use that accumulated vacation time you’ve been far too busy to take.
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to plan and activate change. Right?
Spoiler alert: They don’t work.
Simply resolving to do something different will fail 90% of the time, according to University of Scranton psychology professor, John Norcross.
If we boil it down, it all has to do with habits. Habits are automatic, conditioned responses that allow our brain to switch to auto pilot. Consider that for a second.
Do you stop to think about how to brush your teeth in the morning? Do you pause to decide which leg goes first into your unmentionables? Do you debate which hand to put the spoon in to eat your cereal? Do you ponder the coffee shop you’ll visit for your favorite cup of joe?
And that’s only the first hour of the day.
The fact is, putting some things on auto pilot helps our brain focus on the important stuff. The less critical stuff gets relegated, and over time becomes a habit.
So, to get more exercise, eat healthier, save money or take a vacation this year, we need to form new habits. There are three steps behavioral psychologist, Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., suggests we take to do just that:
- Pick a small action. Going to the gym is not small — but taking the stairs instead of the elevator is.
- Make the new action easy. This will help form the new, conditioned response. Expect to practice it between three and seven times before it will stick.
- Attach the new habit to a previous one. If you already walk a few times a week, adding 10 minutes to each walk connects the new habit with the existing one.
So, now let’s shift from our personal lives to work. How might you apply this same approach in your work setting to affect positive change this year?
For example, could you find small ways to improve the outcomes of team meetings and then make minor tweaks over time until new, more productive meeting habits form across your organization?
The possibilities for lasting change in 2019 are endless. Each change starts with taking a small, easy action.
Now that’s a resolution we can all make — and keep.
Thanks for being involved today.