New beginnings

Happy New Year to you! I wish you all the best for 2015.

Most people start the year with resolutions and plans for the year… So you have written down your carefully articulated resolutions and plans for 2015 and even possibly gone further to include timescales for the achievement of those resolutions. Statistics show that more than half of new year resolutions make do not succeed beyond the first quarter of the year! However,  I am not here to discuss the efficacy of new year resolutions, but to suggest some little steps that can be taken to effect great changes. I would like to call it a ‘habit swap’.

Dictionary meanings of habit include: “repeated action”, “a settled or regular tendency or practice”, “something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it”. We all have habits but the difference here is the type of habits that we have cultivated. Habits are powerful and will eventually generate results; good or bad.  This is not a prescription of what constitutes good habit or otherwise, but to challenge you to make a judgement of your habits by the results that they have generated. Habit is not the action in itself, but the repetitiveness of the action. The start of the year is an opportunity to evaluate the things you do repetitively and the outcome of those things. Our present position is the result of a combination of factors, including our habits. Our aspirations for the new year will be achieved through factors, including the habits that we have formed or will form. Likewise the underachievement of our aspirations will be influenced by these factors. Think about the habits you have cultivated towards your health, career, social life… and the results of these habits. Deducing the habits that you need to break and continue should be a no brainer from these critical thoughts. Breaking some habits should inspire you to form new habits. Old habits broken and not replaced with new ones will eventually draw you back to them if care is not taken. For instance, if reading certain types of books is a habit you want to break, it is advisable to replace those books with the type of books that you want to engage yourself with. Giving up on reading will be a wrong approach as this is an unlikely habit to sustain, however replacing the genre of books is more realistic and achievable. The same goes for music, sports and most areas of life.  Habits are formed through repetition. Repetition over  a period of time will eventually form a habit which will eventually form a lifestyle. Forming new habits are more achievable with a ‘baby step’ approach. Setting hard targets is one of the key challenge for successful habit formation or breakage.  Rather than take the whole year as a target, why not break it into weeks, or better still days. It is certainly easier to repeat action(s) or desist from action(s) over a period of a week, than a month. I would it even stretch it as far as taking daily doses for more sustainable results.  There is a pressure that comes from habit formation/breakage that coupling it with a hard target would only make things appear insurmountable. This can be deflected by removing the hard target and focusing on getting through smaller hurdles.

During my next blog, I will share some of the thought process that have helped me develop replace negative habits with positive ones. Have a great week!

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