As the wave of advice around New Year’s resolutions is ebbing, this year’s alleged “quitter’s day” is approaching fast: Based on 822 global online activities in 2019, It has been scheduled to be January 19th 2020.
According to this analysis, most New Year’s resolutions will give way to reality by 19th of January, including the two most frequent resolutions of healthy eating and exercising. But what does that matter?
There are people out there who do follow through with their intentions for the coming year.
I’m as bad as anyone on following through with resolutions, and I don’t manage to tick all of my daily habit tracker’s boxes faithfully. But I keep trying. And what matters most: I’m in for the long haul.
I want to build identity.
The identity of a healthy eater.
The identity of a good life and business partner.
The identity of a networker.
What identity do you want to build?
That is a good question to ask yourself any day of the year when you seek to create change. However, the heartfelt intentions “to be a better boss” or “to be a better listener” on its own won’t get you anywhere on their own. But those are examples for identity based goals which allow you to create lasting shifts in your life.
So, what is the identity you want to build?
Once you have identified that, the next question is:
What habits would show yourself that this is your new identity?
What does a better boss mean to you? Brainstorm on that. Here are a few pointers if you are stuck for ideas: When did you have a good boss, and what made them good in your eyes? Ask the people you lead what of these habits would have the most positive impact on them. Ask your friends, colleagues, and boss what behaviours and attitudes make a good boss.
Then make a plan, and take it step by step. It is crucial to start with one small habit.
What’s the one habit you can start today?
I bet you are coming up with many habits, and are eager to start them all at once. That’s a success killer. Instead, start with one small habit. Don’t worry, you can add the other habits later on, so write the list on the bottom of your daily habit tracker. When you feel that your first habit has become fully automatised, then you can add the next habit on your list. Automatising habits can take 21 days, it can take months. It depends on many things, and one of them is how faithfully you are able to stick to the habit, and whether it is a daily or a weekly habit. It does not really matter how long it takes, because you are reaching for a lasting new identity.
Tracking is important. It is a motivator. It works like a reward when we put our check in the box and thus visualise that we have stuck to our daily habit. Our brain registers this reward like a kid reacts delighted about candy. Giving ourselves a reward encourages us to remember doing the little action again tomorrow.
I used to print my habit tracker and stick it up the fridge. I now track my habits digitally, but every evening I still faithfully go through my list and tick off the habits that I have stuck to. And if there is a habit that I continuously break, I take a closer look and ask myelf whether I should replace this habit with another one. My tracker is not a way to chide myself, it is simply a research and analysis tool about what works, and what does not. Therefore I take off habits that have become entirely automatic (think of brushing your teeth). No need to track them anymore.
Identity building is always in flux.
Forget about January 19th.
Because your identity does not live in a calendar.