Director The Learning Architect
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How successful are your new year’s resolutions?

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21st Jan 2013
Director The Learning Architect
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It's still January, but many people may be reneging on their self-made promises already. All is not lost, explains Liggy Webb.

Let me ask you this: Who woke up on January 1st full of extremely positive intentions to stick to a whole host of life-enhancing resolutions for 2013?

Let me now ask: How is it going? 

I put this to a few friends and family over the weekend (nearly three weeks into January ) with over 70% of the people I spoke to admitting that they had regretfully fallen off the wagon already. Well regret not! If they are that important to you, pick yourself up and have another go. Set yourself a few new goals. I have always believed that goal setting is a brilliant way to really test how much you want something.    

This is really all about changing habits and that doesn’t happen over night and without perseverance. What separates the positive and negative people is that the positive people have habits and behaviours that are conducive to success, whilst the negative people have ones that facilitate failure in their lives.

Remember: you control your habits - they do not control you. Your life is the culmination of all the daily behaviours that you have chosen. You are where you are right now because of the behaviours that you have adopted in the past.

"...positive people have habits and behaviours that are conducive to success, whilst the negative people have ones that facilitate failure in their lives."

It is important to identify which habits in your life lead to negative consequences and which lead to positive rewards. The difficulty in this sometimes has to do with instant gratification. If you change your habits, on occasions you’re not going to see an immediate effect. It is for this reason that people struggle with diets or can’t stop drinking, smoking, or spending money because they can’t control the instant gratification that is delivered.

Experts in hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming believe that it takes around 21 to 28 days to form the basis of a new habit or behaviour. The time it takes to replace an old one is inconclusive because it depends entirely on the person and how long they have owned it.

As with any newly learned behaviour, you may well experience some internal resistance for the first week or more. This is natural and it’s not going to be easy, so you have to mentally prepare for this challenge ahead of time. After you survive this first week, you will find that your new habit and behaviour becomes easier and easier to do and soon you don’t even have to think about doing it at all.

Here are a few useful tips to help you change your habits.

  • Do one habit at a time - This is really important as changing habits is difficult, even with just one habit. If you do more than one habit at a time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Keep it simple, allow yourself to focus, and give yourself the best chance for success.
  • Make a record - Just saying you’re going to change a habit is not enough of a commitment. You need to actually record what you are going to do.
  • Make a plan - This will ensure you’re really prepared. The plan must include your reasons and motivations for changing, obstacles, triggers, people who will support you, and other ways you are committed to being successful.
  • Establish strong motives - You have to be very clear why you are changing your habit. If you are doing it for someone else with no real will then you are setting yourself up to fail.
  • Analyse your obstacles - If you have tried to change this habit before and it hasn’t worked, reflect on the reasons why and work out what stopped you from succeeding. Record every obstacle then create a plan of how to overcome them.
  • Identify your triggers - What situations trigger your current habit? Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and record them in your plan.
  • Ask for help - Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Ask them for their help, and let them know how important this is to you.
  • Become aware of self-talk - You talk to yourself, in your head, all the time and may not be consciously aware of what you are programming yourself with. Start listening to those thoughts because they can easily derail any habit, change or goal if you are not careful.
  • Stay positive - You may well have some negative thoughts and the most important thing is to realise when you are having them and convert them into more positive thoughts. You are totally capable of doing this.
  • Avoid toxic people - There will always be people who are negative, who try to get you to revert to your old habit. Be ready for them and confront them. You don’t need them to try to sabotage you, you need their support, and if they can’t support you then avoid them if you can.
  • Use visualisation - Create a vivid picture, in your head, where you are successfully changing your habit. Visualise yourself doing your new habit. Your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is artificial so you will project yourself into the desired state by constantly rehearsing for it.
  • Reward yourself - When you succeed, you deserve to reward yourself and this will incentivise and motivate you to keep going with whatever you are trying to achieve.
  • Take 'The 30 Day Challenge' - Allow about 30 days to implement a new habit. This will help you to stay focused and consistent and build a routine. This is a round number and the successful outcome will vary from person to person and habit to habit. It is a very good starting point.

Bounce back - If you at first you don’t succeed, work out what went wrong, make an improvement plan and begin again.

Liggy Webb’s new book Resilience ( Published by Capstone ) is out on February 15th 2013. Liggy is widely respected as a leading expert in the field of modern life skills and workplace wellness. She is the founding director of The Learning Architect a consortium of niche industry experts. For more info visit www.liggywebb.com and www.thelearningarchitect.com. For access to more toolkits and information you can email Liggy here

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