Happy New Year, everyone! Here we are on the other side of the Big Reset Button, and if you’re like me, you’re still in the midst of putting all those lovely new goals in place and (trying) to make them habits.
It can be hard to make new habits, usually because of the implication that in doing so you are breaking and replacing old, unwanted habits. But even if that’s not the case, it can be a challenge to come back over and over and do The Thing that you want to be your new habit. Eating more healthily, writing every day, practicing the tuba, taking that mile walk every evening, whatever it is you have down as your Thing to be achieved, there’s probably a reason why it isn’t already a habit and is a goal to be achieved in the new year.
I fully empathize with this. I have an unfortunate track record of setting myself wonderful, laudable goals every year (or month), and will usually start off on them great, but then eventually will peter out. I’ll get tired, or run out of time one day before I can do my Thing, and then get stuck in the never ending loop of trying to catch up with myself. It can be a bit of a drag, quite frankly. And with that in mind, I may not be the best person to give advice on how to avoid this phenomenon from happening, but I have at least one tip which I’ve found helps me out.
Do you remember that scene from E.T. where the alien was lured with a trail of Reese’s Pieces? That’s my tip: Catch an alien.
No, not really. Though I do suggest Reese’s Pieces if you like them. I personally love them. But while you’re planning out your goals, your Things to achieve, remember to also set in place a little metaphorical line of Reese’s Pieces for yourself. Give yourself a set of rewards for sticking to your Thing, and future rewards to look forward to and keep yourself going.
This may seem a little on the cheap side, (and it is), but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Positive reinforcement is just as important as negative, and a hell of a lot more fun. And if you’re doing well at your Thing, why not reward yourself? It doesn’t have to be food, of course. It can be anything you enjoy and would consider a treat. A new book, an evening binging your favorite show or grinding through your favorite game, or just having a whole evening to yourself if you’re in a position to give yourself one.
Don’t just beat yourself up if you slip up on keeping to your new goals. Reward yourself for doing well. Forgive yourself if you do slip a little bit and mini-reward yourself for getting back on track again.
Treating yourself well and being flexible in your goals will make it much more probable that you’ll actually accomplish those goals.
And you might catch an alien into the bargain!