It is a new year and some of us have set New Years resolutions and are trying to form new habits. Are you one of them?
Since we are almost halfway through January, a few of us have already quitted and continue in our old ways. If you belong to the group who never sets any intentions in the first place, you might now feel a sense of pride and might think "I knew it. It never works."
A look at the statistics won't help either. More than 80% won't follow through with their New Years resolutions and only 2% will stay true to their set goal after two years.
Now, you might expect that I will offer you some groundbreaking advice in how you can follow through with your goals and achieve everything you ever wanted. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I won't, because I can't, because in reality there is no magic formula.
However, I like to invite you to think about what you really want to achieve when you are trying to form a new habit and that maybe in that thought process lies the explanation why it is almost impossible to form new habits.
But we have to start at the beginning: you have set a new goal for yourself. You want to change something, you want to achieve something. Let's get real practical: maybe you want to run a marathon at the end of the year. I know, half of you now thinks "why would you ever want to do that?" but the example is not so important at the moment, so please stay with me just for the sake of the argument.
In order to run the marathon you have to form the habit of running. Obviously, you have to become a runner. As a very motived and determined person you have read all the books on forming a new habit and yes, there are tons of books out there on how to get rid of old habits and create new ones. Usually it comes down to a new mindset, looking at your own triggers and some form of a reward system.
So far, so good, but now we will face a challenge pretty soon and it is rooted in how you define the word habit.
Here is the definition the Cambridge Dictionary provides:
"something that you do often and regularly,
sometimes without knowing that you are doing it."
Isn't that music to our ears? How wonderful it would be to do our new set goal often, regularly and without any conscious thought. Imagine you could run a 1ok regularly and without knowing that you are doing it. Amazing. But wait, is this even possible?
No. Habit impossible.
In contrast, here are some actual habits that you may have in your life: brushing your teeth, looking left and right when you cross a street, buckle up when you enter a car, kiss your partner good-night. Now, what do these habits have in common? Well, they are easy to do.
Now look at the new habit you would like to set for yourself. Does it fall into the easy to achieve category or will it, no matter how often you practice it, still be hard? It may get easier over time, sure, but never effortless.
Of course, we can still cultivate the habit of running, but it may only fulfill the first part of the definition: we do it regularly, but it will not fulfill the second part of the definition that we do it without little or no conscious thought.
This is why I wonder that when we say "I want to create a new habit" do we mean that we want to do something on a regular basis, stick to it when it is everything but easy and keep going OR are we trying to say I want to turn something hard to do into something easy to do? And is this maybe one of the reasons why we struggle to follow through because many influencers, books and even coaches made us belief that everything can become a habit and therefore turn into an effortless action to us.
But think about it: It will never be easy to write a novel. It will never be easy to be a business leader. It will never be easy to play the piano. It will never be easy to stay fit and healthy.
All these examples and many more will by definition never become a habit in the sense that you will do them regularly without knowing that you are doing them. But we expect it, don't we?
Now, I invite you to look at your New Years resolutions list or for that matter at any goal that you may have. And let's be honest: is it possible to turn that goal into a habit or will it only be possible that with deep commitment, will power, under sweat and pain and with people at your side who support you that you will finish that marathon at the end of this year?
This is a different perspective, isn´t it and while it does not promise us the world, it does provide us with a more realistic version of what we can actually achieve and the price we may need to pay to get there.
So, New Years resolutions or not, if there is something on your mind or on your heart that you would like to achieve that by definition will never become a habit because it will always and forever acquire your conscious thoughts and willpower, I encourage you to work with a coach. Having someone on your side who will support you when you are about to give up can make all the difference.
COACHING because some goals are worth fighting for!
SUCCESS IS NEVER OWNED. IT IS RENTED AND THE RENT IS DUE EVERYDAY.
- Rory Vaden -