Sticking to your Resolutions: The way to achieve self improvement.

 

Resolutions have been around for thousands of years. The Babylonians did it, The Romans did it. Typical of many holidays the roots have been traced to Pagan practices. The bonus for us is we don't need to make ritualistic sacrifices during our 2020 planning session. The new year is a time to reflect on the year past and a time to look forward. Now days it is becoming increasingly common to see someone toss out the idea of New Years resolutions for a more "woke" thought process like, "I can make resolutions any time", or "new years is just a cop out for those who don't strive for self improvement on a regular basis".

I might have fallen into this camp myself multiple times. Especially, right at the peak of resolution gym goers. It's harder to find an open lane to swim in, harder to find a empty treadmill, and easier to be cynical. The idea of new years resolutions is often scoffed at because of the success rate. We mock because we see so many grandiose dreams fail before the calendar even gets to flip a page. Of course this is a selfish thought process and we should all encourage everyone to stick to their resolutions. Here's why.

Imagine a world where everyone was living their "best life" and please pardon the cliche for the duration of this thought experiment. The amount of difference one person can make on a community is immeasurable, and this is not an impact that only select few can achieve, nor is it a task left only for those born at the right time with the right genetics. This is not a write up about changing the world, nor is it a call to action to do so, but imagine the possibilities of a world where you and those around you were striving for higher potential (in the best ways) all the time. Here's the thing, no one makes a new years resolution with the goal to destroy someone else (I have never been in the mind of an evil conqueror so I cant say for certain). Resolutions; as a general statement, are there for self betterment, to increase our worth to ourselves and to our community. Support that. Be a driving force in helping others achieve their goals. The world will be a better place for it. Okay stepping down and moving on.

 

We are here to help show you how to make sustainable changes this year. Don't make any resolutions until you read this! These are mental hacks that will help you nail your new years resolutions!

These are the top New Years resolutions for 2020.

  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get organized
  4. Learn a new skill or hobby
  5. Live life to the fullest
  6. Save more money / spend less money
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Spend more time with family and friends
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more

The top New Years resolutions for 2020 are similar to resolutions of the past. You will recognize most of them and possibly have some of them on your own list. These resolutions all have something in common and that is this:They are better served by use of creating habits rather than setting goals.

 

new years notepad coffee cup adobe stock

 

 

Create habits, not goals.

Goals are temporary

 

Think about any goals you might be tossing around in your head. What are they? Is that goal the end all be all to your character development or simply a measuring tool to see if you can accomplish a task? Taking an example from the above list; lose weight, is the goal of hitting a number on the scale the end of the resolution? Or is the desired outcome to become a person who lives a healthy lifestyle. What has more permanence?

When setting a resolution avoid this common mistake: Setting a lofty goal with some arbitrary number that has no meaningful significance. Goals like this are most often tossed by the wayside. For me the goal was always "read x amount of books this year" when I didn't do much reading at all, in reality the desired outcome was "become someone who reads regularly". The goal falls into place after the character trait needed to achieve the goal is realized. This approach will help you not only stick to your new years resolutions, but will mold you into a person that can accomplish even more.

 

We are here to help show you how to make sustainable changes this year. Don't make any resolutions until you read this! These are mental hacks that will make you crush your new years resolutions and meet goals.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Resolutions have been around for thousands of years. The Babylonians did it, The Romans did it. Typical of many holidays the roots been traced to Pagan practices. It is a time to reflect on the year past and a time to look forward. Now days it is becoming increasingly common to see someone toss out the idea of New Years resolutions for a more "woke" thought process like "I can make resolutions any time", or "new years is just a cop out for those who don't strive for self improvement on a regular basis"

I might have fallen into this camp myself multiple times. Especially right at the peak of resolution gym goers. It's harder to find an open lane to swim in, harder to find a empty treadmill, and easier to be cynical. The idea of new years resolutions is often scoffed because of the success rate. We mock because we see so many grandiose dreams fall by the wayside before the calendar even gets to flip a page. Of course this is a selfish thought process and we should all encourage everyone to stick to their resolutions. Heres why.

Imagine a world where everyone was living their "best life" and please pardon the cliche for the duration of this though experiment. The amount of difference one person can make on a community is immeasurable, and this is not an impact that only select few can achieve, nor is it a task left only for those born at the right time with the right genetics. This is not a write up about changing the world, nor is it a call to action to do so, but imagine the possibilities of a world where you and those around you were striving for higher potential (in the best ways) all the time. Here's the thing, no one makes a new years resolution with the goal destroy someone else (I have never been in the mind of an evil conqueror so I cant say for certain). Resolutions as a general statement are there for self betterment; to increase our worth to ourselves and to our community. Support that. Be a driving force in helping others achieve their goals. Ok moving on.

Now from the experts!

I first heard this podcast around the beginning of the year. The 2+ hr long episode was both informative and motivating, while providing insight into the nature of habits. It is also why I had the realization that my goal was never to read a certain amount of books, but to become someone who reads. The podcast host is Rich Roll, one of my idols, and his guest, the author of Atomic Habits; James Clear.

Before you set your New Years resolution for 2020, Listen to this podcast! There are shorter videos of James Clear discussing his key points, but this conversation is ultimately enlightening and the best listen (apart from buying the book itself).

Here are a few insights to the podcast we at Trail Truffles feel will help you this year.

 

First, what exactly is a habit?

Habit: A behavior that has been repeated enough times that you do it without even thinking about it.

overlooking clear blue ocean backwards hat rocky beach scenery

 

Through life we run into problems that we need to find solutions for. Solutions to recurring problems become automated. These automated processes are our habits, but not all problems need the same solution. For example if you come home stressed from work and need to unwind, one persons solution might be to read a book, another's solution might be to turn on the TV, and another might go for a run. These are all solutions to the same problem, but they serve you in different ways and the original habit formed is not always the most optimal one. Habits are the way you embody a particular identity. Every time you go to they gym you embody the identity of someone who is fit. Every time you sit down to write you embody the identity of a writer. These habits become how you identify. Your beliefs and habits are connected.

A lot has been written on the subject matter of self improvement, habits, creating goals, etc. What makes this book different is the visualized breakdown of what makes a habit tick, and how to use that to your advantage.

James creates what he calls 4 levers to pull, to make good habits easier or bad habits harder. This is the bread and butter of the podcast. These "levers" take the thoughts being verbalized in the episode and make them something tangible. Breaking down habits into a transparent function which you can then manipulate.

1.CUE 2.CRAVING 3.RESPONSE 4.REWARD

 

HABIT CHANGE

All behaviors serve you in some way, and produce multiple outcomes across time. For bad habits (or habits we want to change), if the Immediate outcome is favorable, you repeat it. Even if the ultimate outcome isn't desirable. For example eating a sleeve of Oreo's is immediately rewarding but over time it will have negative impacts.

Good habits are usually the opposite. Immediate outcome is unfavorable but ultimate outcome is good. E.g. it's cold outside, I don't want to run and I am tired, but if I am in the habit of running daily the ultimate outcome is beneficial. Create a way for good habits to be immediately satisfying, and the inverse, for bad habits to be immediately unsatisfying. "Positive emotions cultivate habits and negative emotions destroy them".

BREAKING A HABIT LEVER CREATING A HABIT

Make it invisible

CUE

Make it obvious

Make it unattractive

CRAVING

Make it attractive

Make it difficult

RESPONSE

Make it easy

Make it unsatisfying

REWARD

Make it satisfying

 

Implementing these ideas and pulling the levers:

CUE: Make it obvious. Change your environment. Place your running shoes where you will see them. Place the Oreo's on the top shelf. Hidden. Make good habits obvious and bad habits invisible.  

CRAVING: Make it attractive. When you interpret a behavior (cue) as attractive, then you have a reason to perform the action. This can also be dependent on the people we are around. Habits that align with our tribes expectations are more attractive. We socially want to feel like we belong. Join a group where you desired behavior is normal.  

RESPONSE: Make it easy: Reduce number of steps between you and good habits, and increase number of steps for bad habits. Make it brainless as much as possible. James gives an example of checking your cell phone. We check it regularly without even thinking, not because we need to but because its right there. Simply having the phone in a separate room was enough barrier to stop him from constantly checking. For more desirable habits the number of steps might need to increase.

Two minute rule: Another way to make it easy is to scale the habit down to two minutes. Even when you think you are starting small, it might not be small enough. James tells of a reader lost 100 lbs made by making a rule that for 6 weeks he had to go to the gym and stay for no longer than 5 minutes. He was able to build on that foundation after mastering art of showing up. Become the person who shows up every day. After you become that person, you can move up from there.

REWARD: Make it satisfying. "Behaviors that are immediately rewarded get repeated, behaviors that are immediately punished get avoided".

James also talks about how to stay strong when you miss or fall short, which is worth listening to as well.

 

The role of goals:

Goals are useful for a sense of direction, but once you get going, the goal goes on the shelf. Winners and losers have the same goal, therefor the goal can't be the thing that makes the difference. When someone toes the line at the 200 m hurdle, everyone toeing that line has the same goal, or close to. Achieving a goal isn't permanent either. We think what we need to change is the result, when what we need to change is the process behind the result.

Motion vs. Action:

Action delivers results. Motion does not. Talking to a personal trainer at gym is motion. Doing squats is action. People get trapped doing motions to feel like they are making progress, without a risk of failure.

True behavior change is identity change. The goal is not to run a marathon the goal is to become a runner. The goal is not to write a book its to become a writer. It is a process that is less about finish line, and more about the journey. "How do I become the type of person that doesn’t miss workouts." Orient around the process, not the result. Reinforce being that person. Small changes can be meaningful and meaningful changes are big.

James and Rich continue to discuss the role of goals, they talk about what can happen when good habits can go bad, and share more insight on the process of creating or destroying habits. If you want to stick to your 2020 resolutions and reach new levels of habit control start with this podcast. It is not time wasted.

man overlooks mountains in wasatch lake blanche big cottonwood canyon utah mountainscape

 

Notable quotes:

  • "Perceived value motivates you to act. Actual value motivates you to repeat"
  • "Outcomes are manifestations of behaviors that preceded them."
  • "Habits are the compound interests of self improvement"
  • “You have to standardize before you optimize”
  • "There are NO good or bad habits, there are behaviors that serve you in a particular way, and the goal is to find a behavior that serves you in a better way!"

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