Do You Have New Year’s Resolutions?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO
Each year millions of Americans make a resolution for the new year. Only eight percent are kept. In fact, eighty percent of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by February – just one month into the new year. Many people have stopped making such resolutions because of the dismal results they have personally achieved — which makes the mere eight percent success rate even more remarkable. So, why do people make such resolutions? People want to change their lives for the better.
If change is the desired outcome, then we do know what does work. People who create habits instead of resolutions are successful at change. How do we know this? Because the neurobiologists, cognitive psychologists, and other researchers have studied our behavior and have determined that up to ninety-five percent of what we do each day is a habit. We just do it without thinking. Therefore, if you want change to happen and occur over and over again – make it a habit.
The key to establishing new habits is to learn how you best create them for yourself. Any simple habit is a good starter habit. One that works well for me is picking my top three must do tasks for each day – and a Most Important Task (MIT) from them. It takes me less than a minute to select them after reviewing my upcoming day. It takes me less than a minute to review them each evening. It makes the rest of my day more meaningful and productive. Not a bad return on a two-minute investment of time.
Of course, there is an endless list of habits you can implement in your life that would make you healthier, wiser, more productive, and happier. In fact, any activity you do can be most likely segmented into a series of mini-habits you do each day, week, or month. Complex behaviors like project management and execution at work and getting fit in your personal life are just a series of mini-habits. Again, up to ninety-five percent of what you do is a habit –isn’t that where we ought to begin with true change?
The other good news is that once you work on a habit it gets easier to do and you can do it much faster. For instance, last year I started a weekly writing habit of 500 words for distribution to members – this email which comes out each Friday. Starting in November, I expanded the habit to 500 words a day. Then, I increased my word count to 1,000 words a day. What used to take me an hour for 500 words now takes me 30 to 40 minutes for 1,000 words. And, this allows me to make plans for my first book to come out this year. How am I doing it? Habits! Before discovering how I could use habits to change my daily actions, a dream of writing a book would have just stayed a dream. Now, it is a reality.
I encourage you to make only one New Year’s Resolution this year. Commit to learning how to adopt new habits into your life. Start with one easy habit – and work your way into complex, multi-stage habits. They all work pretty much the same. However, once you know how to do it – you can change nearly everything you choose to do in your day.
If you could adopt just one new habit, what would it be? What would be an easy habit to start the ball rolling for you in 2018? What leadership habit could you adopt to help make you a more effective leader? Will you give yourself the gift of change this year? These are all good questions to ask ourselves as we start 2018. From us here at MACNY, we wish you a blessed and prosperous New Year filled with the change – and new habits – you most desire!