As I write this post, we are nearly 90 days into the year…how are you doing with the New Year’s Resolutions you set on January 1st?
It’s often during January when we reflect on our goals and objectives for the next 12 months (but it can really be any time!). For many of us, our physical health comes into focus as a priority—BUT—after a few months or weeks (or for some of us, even days), the feverish pace of our normal schedule takes its toll and we fall back into our old habits as the demands of everyday life resume after the holidays.
The dictionary definition of a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Habits become your lifestyle, and your lifestyle will lead to permanent results.
Less than 10% of people succeed at achieving their beginning-of-year goals. If you are one of the determined folks who has stuck to the behavioral changes you set out to make at the start of the year, congratulations, there is a very high likelihood that they are becoming a part of your lifestyle now.
If you are part of the 90%, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t immediately there. There is no reason to get down on yourself…forming a habit takes time, and if it’s a good habit, the outcome will be well worth the commitment.
You may have heard a popular catchphrase that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Science and real-world experience tells us that it actually takes a MINIMUM of 21 days, but on average between 60 to 90 days. So, for most people, 90 days (or 3 months or 12 weeks—however you look at it) is a much more effective and realistic timeframe to incorporate a new behavior into your life.
If you have fallen off the wagon with your New Year’s Resolution, this is your perfect chance to get back on. The official start of spring is in a few days, and by (re)starting work on your New Year’s Resolution or any other healthy goal now, you could have a new habit formed just in time for the official start of summer!
If you are reading this at another time of the year, you don’t have to wait until January 1st or springtime! We tend to draw completely arbitrary lines between the old and new desired behaviors, but in actuality, you should begin the habit-forming process whenever you are ready.
If you are ready to get started today, look ahead toward your next 90 days: where do you want to be 90 days (or 3 months or 12 weeks) from now? Mark it off on your calendar. Use this as a bookend to create the new habit, but remember, it doesn’t end there.
Habits are a lifelong process and not an event!
As you begin, here are a couple of tips to keep you on track and provide you the best chance at success:
- – Forming a habit takes discipline, but reminding yourself of the ultimate reason WHY you’re making this change will help you stick to it.
- – Work toward forming habits that can fit into your life in the long run, not just a limited amount of time. Focus on developing a lifestyle that will yield the results you desire.
- – Begin with incremental improvements to your routine. You don’t have to do it all at once. If you manage your expectations, you can celebrate all of the small results you achieve along the way.
- – Don’t get down on yourself for making a mistake or two here and there. Be willing to course correct. You don’t have to be perfect to have a measurable impact on forming long-term habits.