2022 is upon us, and by the end of this month, 43% will give up on those ambitious new year’s resolutions. 80% will quit within three months. And less than 10% will see out their recent years’ resolution to December 31st.
If you’re surprised by these statistics, you shouldn’t be because the same pattern repeats itself every year in the future.
So that beckons the question: why do so many people fail to make meaningful changes in their lives?
Well, as it turns out, people are focusing too much on goal setting and not enough on building the systems and habits that lead to sustainable achievement. Every year, the same scenario repeats itself: people set huge goals and neglect to consider the small actions that, if completed, would result in real progress and remarkable achievements over time.
When people think of what it takes to become successful, they often think of a lone warrior exerting strenuous efforts to reach their goals, mowing down any opposition in their way. However, research has proven that the modern conception of high achievers is flawed.
I’ve worked with thousands of business owners from across the UK, and I can categorically say that our paradigm of what it takes to achieve success is fundamentally wrong. Contrary to popular belief, success results from a set of habits practised consistently over time, as opposed to the popular notion of intense, short-term effort. Setting ambitious goals is an essential part of the process; building systems is just as important.
If there is a single ‘secret’ to success, it’s this: high achievers have more positive habits that contribute to their success than negative habits that hinder success. The balance is tipped in their favour.
In this short guide, I’ll be sharing my top tips for weeding out the habits that are holding you back and building the routines you need to make 2022 your best year yet.
A good starting point would be defining what we believe a habit is. A habit is a routine or behaviour performed automatically over a sustained period. Habits are a system. They don’t rely on sporadic energy spurs or require you to ‘be in the zone.’
Small habits which seem so insignificant at first will compound into incredible results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. And detrimental habits will snowball into poor performance and missed opportunities if you don’t root them out.
You may be thinking, “I’d like to develop better habits, but I just can’t seem to make them stick” My response? You need a proven, repeatable, and reliable system for replacing destructive habits with positive ones. Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don’t want to change (you do!), but because you have the wrong system in place for change.
BJ Fogg PhD is the founder of Stanford University’s Behaviour Design Lab and is the author of the bestselling “Tiny Habits: the small changes that change everything.” His model of behaviour change is impressive, and it’s much easier than you’d think. In fact, according to Fogg, you can only truly change your behaviour when you feel good.
Our brains have evolved to reward us whenever we take specific actions, such as eating or achieving a goal. We choose to play video games because it feels good. We choose to eat unhealthy foods because, at least, it feels good in the short term.
Fogg has shown that we can “hack’’ the brain’s reward system and use it to solidify positive habits. And to create and maintain new habits, we need to start small.
Exercising is usually at the top of the New Years resolution lists for most people. However, people demand too much from themselves early on. Instead of creating massive changes all at once, Fogg’s research has shown that taking small steps is the key to lasting behaviour change.
Instead of planning to run for 30 minutes every day, our habit should be to put on our shoes. Instead of setting a resolution to write a diary every evening, you should aim to write just one sentence.
It might sound counterintuitive, but the research is detailed. By slight changes to our daily routines, we change the neuropathways in our brains and lay the foundations for sustainable behaviour change.
Fogg summarises the principle of starting small in his book: “no matter how much you want to cultivate a healthy habit, and you won’t be able to do it reliably if you start big. When you go big, the habit probably won’t stick. In many people’s lives, (starting small) isn’t just the best option; it’s the only option.”
So, in summary, the best way to make positive changes in 2022 is to identify the habits you want to build and make them so small that they will be easy to do and follow; it’s the only way to achieve your goals.
Break them down, right down to daily, weekly and monthly actions, outcomes and activities.
I recommend you add the following books to your New Year’s reading list: Atomic Habits & Tiny Habits.
To Your Success,