Dan and Chip Heath are the authors of the best-selling books Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. As a fan, I subscribe to their e-newsletter, and they sent one today about resolutions and how to keep them. I thought I’d share their four tips with you.
Look for Your Bright Spots
“Psychologists tell us that we are wired to look at the negative. One famous study concluded that, when it comes to the way we think, ‘bad is stronger than good.’ So when it comes to changing our lives, we’ll tend to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the problem and how do I fix it?’ But often we can benefit more by asking a different question: ‘What’s working and how can I do more of it?’ In other words, we can learn from our own ‘bright spots.'”
Make One Change at a Time
“Self-control is the fuel that allows change to succeed, but it is limited. For that reason, you will have a better chance of success if you can focus on one change at a time. If you try to change jobs and exercise routines and relationship habits all at once, you are more likely to stall, because you’ve run out of ‘fuel.'”
Turn That One Change Into a Habit
“Habits are effective because, once established, they no longer burn self-control. (Think about how little mental energy it requires to take a shower, or make your morning coffee, or to carry out any of the other habits you’ve acquired.) You’ll be more likely to keep your resolution if you can turn it into a habitual behavior—something that happens in the same time and place on a regular cycle.”
Set an “Action Trigger” to Start Your Habit ASAP
“Let’s say you’re trying to exercise more. You might declare to yourself: Tomorrow morning, right after I drop off Elizabeth at dance class, I’ll head straight to the gym for my workout. Let’s call this mental plan an ‘action trigger.’ You’ve made the decision to follow a certain plan (exercising) when you encounter a certain trigger (the school’s front entrance, tomorrow morning).”
What’s your big 2014 resolution and how do you plan to stick with it? Please let us know in the comments.