New Year - New Habits - New You
We are entering into 2024, and the common thing to do at the beginning of a new year is to set some New Year's resolutions.
Most people set resolutions to lose weight, make more money, exercise more, save more money, improve relationships with family/friends, etc. The sad part about New Year's resolutions is that only 9% of people actually follow through and achieve them.
So, what is the secret to changing some old, bad habits and creating new, more productive ones?
The first part is making a decision to change and improve your life. Clarity is power! You must create a vision of what your goals are and why you want them. Having the “what” is great but when you have a strong “why” magic happens. The “why” will make you take action when you don't feel like it.
Now that you have some strong reasons why you want to change, now you have to create some leverage and inspiration to ensure you follow through.
How do you do that? Here are some ideas and strategies.
Strategy #1: Understand the Difference Between Happiness and Pleasure
Happiness is feeling good about yourself. It is a sensation associated with inner peace and mental and emotional calmness.
It is feeling good about what you have accomplished, the direction of your career, how strong your relationship is with your spouse/significant other, etc. Happiness drives serotonin, which is a chemical messenger that drives your mood up and fights depression.
Overall, you are feeling good about things and the direction you are headed in life.
Pleasure on the other hand is a short-term high that makes you feel better momentarily. It spikes dopamine, which can lead to addiction in some cases. Drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal substances can drive dopamine for a short period. Sugar, constant scrolling on social media, and gambling can give you momentary pleasure, but it won't last long.
The challenge is that the more you use this substance or participate in this act, you will eventually need more to get the same effect.
Focus on driving your happiness up and less on short-term, indulgent pleasures.
Strategy #2: Publicly Declare your Goals and Action Plan
When you tell other people about your goals and ambitions, you put a positive pressure on yourself to follow through. Some people will publicly declare their goals on social media so everyone knows.
This will make sure you do what you are supposed to do instead of what you want to do. Joe Rogan participates in “Sober October” every year to instill some discipline in his life and make sure he is moving his life in a positive direction.
Think about who you can tell about your goals and ambitions. This will help you immensely!
Strategy #3: Have an Accountability Partner/Role Model
Making changes in your life is not easy. Having someone in your corner that you can talk to and rely on when your willpower is low can help a lot. People struggling with addiction often have a sponsor that helps keep them on track at those inevitable moments of weakness.
It is hard to achieve success alone. The old saying, “It takes a team to build the dream” is so true. Get a partner to help keep you on track.
It is also helpful to have a role model or someone that you look up to that has achieved what you are hoping to achieve. I have a role model who I have never met (although I hope to one day) that inspires me daily through his YouTube videos and books.
His name is Bas Rutten. He is 58 years old, and a former UFC Champion and UFC Hall of Famer. He still trains in martial arts every day, teaches, and is in great shape! He has eliminated all the bad vices that he once had. His story is inspiring and motivates me to stay on the right path.
Strategy #4: The Rewards of Success and the Penalties of Failure
Having a reward for successfully completing your goal can be a huge incentive. That may be taking a trip, buying something you have always wanted, or winning the promotion/award. We are all driven by the carrot or the stick, however studies show that the carrot is a much more effective motivator over the long-term.
With that said, sometimes the penalties of failure can drive performance. I knew a guy that wanted to lose weight. He tried everything but he could not seem to stick to the daily disciplines of eating properly and exercising to get the weight off.
So, he told his friend about his challenge, and they came up with a plan. There was a competitor of his (in business) that he despised. He wrote a check out to this competitor for $1,000. He told his friend that if he did not lose the weight within 3 months, he had to send the check to his competitor on his behalf with no questions asked. Guess what? He lost weight!
Making changes is hard. The old saying is, “Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons.” Good habits are hard to form but easy to love with. On the other hand, bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with.
Take it one day at a time, stay focused, work hard, and do your best. The best is yet to come! Happy new year!