We are creatures of habit. Between a third and half of our behaviour is habitual, according to research estimates.
Unfortunately, our bad habits compromise our health, wealth and happiness. Here are five ways to help you keep your new year’s resolutions.
1. Prioritise your goals
Willpower is a finite resource. Resisting temptation drains our willpower, leaving us vulnerable to influences that reinforce our impulsive behaviours.
A common mistake is being overly ambitious with our new year resolutions.
The ideal approach is to make small, incremental changes that replace the habit with a behaviour that supplies a similar reward.
2. Change your routines
Habits are embedded within routines. While routines can boost our productivity and add stability to our social lives they should be chosen with care.
People who live alone have stronger routines so throwing dice to randomise your decision making if you do could help you disrupt your habits.
3. Monitor your behaviour
“Vigilant monitoring” appears to be the most effective strategy for tackling strong habits.
This is where people actively monitor their goals and regulate their behaviours in response to different situations.
Distraction is another approach that can disrupt habits.
4. Imagine your future self
To make better decisions we need to overcome our tendency to prefer rewards now rather than later – psychologists call this our “present bias”. One way to fight this bias is to future proof our decisions.
5. Set goals and deadlines
Setting self-imposed deadlines or goals helps us change our behaviour and form new habits.
For example, say you are going to save a certain amount of money every month.
Deadlines work particularly well when tied to self-imposed rewards and penalties for good behaviour.