To fulfil your New Year resolution goal, you need to make it a habit

Have you decided what your New Year Resolution is? Well, I’m sorry to tell you that the probability of achieving those goals is low. A study showed that only 15% of Nigerians carry out their good- intentioned resolution.

We all have our behavioural tendency which is our habit. It is believed that it takes 21 days for a habit to crystallize. Plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz observed that most patients begin to readjust to their altered appearance after 21 days. He stated the details in a block buster book: “Psycho-Cybernetics”. The University College of London as though discredited the 21 days theory.  UCL findings actually states that it takes 66days for “Automaticity” to manifest.

Personally, I believe the time taken for a habit to sync is determined by the habit itself. We are a creature on both habit and change.

These 10 lessons have proven true time and again in our everyday life

  1. Know thyself.

searchit_ResolutionAs the fireworks rocketed over Lagos to herald in the new millennium, He knew he was in a rut. He’d been working for the same corporation since leaving university, and there was simply no magic left. He had cloaked his trailblazing personality in grey flannel, and he was on constant autopilot. He knew what He didn’t want from work and life. But for him, changes started taking place only when he asked himself what he really did want. What did he value? What was his purpose? How could he best use his talents?

He began getting to know myself, took a few psychometric tests to better understand his preferences, strengths and blind spots. Prioritizing  his values and then set vision and goals that served his personality, skill set and outlook on life. He formed new habits more easily because they aligned with the plan He laid out for himself.

The takeaway: It’s very difficult to create sustained habits when our vision isn’t achievable and our goals are disconnected from our core values and abilities. This is the first lesson that will help you achieve your resolution goal.

  1. Understand the case for change.

One of my core values centers on wellness and healthy living. I bought an expensive automatic air freshener after reading about its benefits in a book. That gadget sat on the wall for a long time, empty. Why? Because the refill price was way of my budget. It took so much effort to balance my budget after I included it into the list.

My new habit wasn’t sticking because of the very scientific PITA factor. In layman’s terms, the pain-in-the-ass ratio to refill the can outweighed the payoff: A small release of freshener from the can gave me the creeps. I kept the gadget and devoted greater attention to the research behind natural and clear room atmosphere. I examined the composition of the freshener and how each enhances fitness, health and energy levels. What I learned made me want to try again.

The takeaway: Habits crystallize only when we better understand why we’re going through the motions.

  1. A resolution that taps into your passion.

I took drum lessons as a child, but my drum teacher always admonished me for not practicing enough. It’s true: I didn’t. Truth be told, I never became anything close to being a drummer. My grandma called me Conticurcur (it has no dictionary meaning though, just the sound I like to make with my plate), but I lacked the talent and passion to advance beyond sounding like I didn’t know what hand to use. Paraphrasing Aristotle, Will Durant wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Mastering a musical instrument takes many hours of dedicated practice, but it also requires passion and aptitude.

The takeaway: We can’t excel in everything. Sometimes we need to let go of things that are not meant to be and focus on the things we’re good at rather than the things people want us to be good at.

  1. Connect to other habits.

I know a man that runs a leadership-consulting business, but he always found time in the day to read, write and research. He never misses a day. Why? He’s passionate about learning, and those daily tasks strategically link to his consulting work. Reading new approaches to leadership and sharing his point of view builds his position as a thought leader and elevates his reputation. This connects crucially and positively to becoming a highly regarded consultant (at least, that’s the theory).

The takeaway: Keystone habits promote and reinforce other habits, including those of the resolutions.

  1. Start small and build incrementally. 

I recently finished putting dimensions on all my drawings. I put off doing it for a long while now because the rigmarole of loading each drawing and putting dimension on each line of a building plan. It seemed like a mammoth task. Finally, I made a start. I decided to work toward my goal for just 30 minutes each evening. I got into a routine. As I made headway, I grew more motivated because I could read my drawings more conveniently. It was a serious improvement because you never can tell when you will have to show a dimensionless plan to a client.

The takeaway: Starting small and building on little successes can help us achieve great results. A domino chain-reaction experiment from Stephen Morris, a geophysics professor at the University of Toronto, explores this in a powerfully visual way.

  1. Create positive associations.

I’m working on a new design and I’m gaining great pleasure from this project. I love the creative process of coming up with an idea and developing the lines. But the closing phase is less glamorous. Fiddling with dimensions for hours and finding ways to have a balanced house without affecting the design is almost as torturous as refilling my air freshener can.

Earlier in the process, I couldn’t seem to fall into the mood to finish the drawing. I found all sorts of reasons to avoid rounding it up. Generally, that meant going for long walks along my local street. Then, I read about the power of positive association and context in habit-forming online. I applied this concept to my project and solved my closing phase problem.

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