Advice

Breaking bad habits

Make the most of the new decade (Jamie Street via Unsplash)

By Lois Brooks

Every year we put pressure on ourselves to not only have new year’s resolutions but also stick to them and honour them throughout the year. No matter if they are big or small resolutions, self-motivation is needed when trying to stick to something new. 

When setting goals to break habits or to keep to resolutions for the new year; make sure you are in a good place to start them. There is no need to rush or stick to January  first as a deadline, take your time to establish the goal and see if it is feasible for you at that moment. If it means that February first is the start of your resolutions, then that’s perfectly fine. Being realstic from the beginning will avoid the feelings of failure and defeat.

Resolutions often include breaking bad habits or forming healthy ones, pursuing goals and learning a new hobby, none of these options will be easy. But as they say, nothing that comes easy is worth doing, in my opinion this is important to remember at all times. Studies have shown that it takes 66 days to break a habit; so when times are getting tough, maybe use the 66 days as a benchmark, a goal to reach. Although 66 days can seem like a mountain, you could break this figure down and think of it as 10 weeks instead, or if easier, take every day as it comes. Every day you stick to your resolution is a day closer to the 66 day benchmark. Then hopefully, after the 66 daysyour goal could be achieved. Whether this is a myth or not, it is a good way to focus on staying motivated and having an end goal. Being able to cross off the days as they pass will feel like achievements. 

Incentives are a perfect motivator; remind yourself constantly why you have set these goals, a positive mental attitude is a helping hand when trying to combat new challenges. Set a reward for when you complete the goals, no matter how big or small it’s something positive to aim for and a nice friendly congratulations also. 

Another way to try and ensure you break bad habits is by having monthly goals, for example if it was wanting to run a certain distance in a certain time. Then you could give yourself monthly targets to reach, for example by the end of February you could aim to run 5K and then March is just a quicker time. By having smaller goals within the big picture, it can make it feel more achievable. As well as a bit more self -rewarding as you can tick the tod-o lista and congratulate yourself frequently. Setting a deadline can be a good target for yourself, however, it really isn’t catastrophic if you miss a deadline and it is essential to remember that – you don’t want to fall at the first hurdle. Therefore,  although being strict with yourself is important, your mental health is too; a goal and deadline is to be aimed for but not to be upset over. 

If you were to fall back to old patterns, for example if you know when you get nervous you become a nail biter and exam season is just around the corner. Then, take the time to try and focus yourself on something else. Sometimes when I feel that I might revert to a habit, I will get up and get a drink or move rooms. Actively removing yourself from the situation should help cause a distraction. 

Once again, everyone has weaker moments during the month so if you find yourself going backwards then try to bring it back to a neutral state and start again. There is no harm in trying. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Be patient and kind to yourself, you’re doing great.

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