What does your New Year’s resolution look like on March 1st?

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If you chose a New Year’s resolution this year, and many years before that – what has it led to? If you are satisfied with the outcome, celebrate! It is rare for these plans to work out.

March 1 photoLet’s look at the science behind making lasting changes. It starts with an overwhelming need to get rid of a habit we don’t like, such as overeating, spending too much time on the internet, not writing that book you have in your head (insert your own version here       ). We make a plan, we get excited about the idea of finally moving on and then something odd and unexpected happens: the change is just too painful and the goal seems not worth it. Add to that the nagging little voices of “well, you tried before what makes you think you will win this time.

So it becomes a battle within yourself and eventually you push it under the rug. Not because you don’t want it anymore but because you don’t know HOW to get there. Here is what neuroscience studies show: it takes 21 days to create a new habit, if you practice every day. After 21 days you have a tender young new habit that has a chance of surviving but still needs to be nurtured to grow up and become stronger than the (bad) habit it is replacing.

Where do you start:

#1 Set a SMART goal and figure out why this is important to you (to you and you alone).
#2 Make a plan, of all the steps you want to take towards your goal.
#3 The A in SMART stands for Achievable, so be realistic – change happens in small increments not by scaling a mountain in one day.
#4 Get a partner who keeps you honest, checks in with you every day to see whether you are on track.
#5 If you don’t stay on track, analyze what happens, circle back to #1: What is it that I want and why?

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