Resolutions like “Network more” or “Get more fun out of life” are vague. Put your resolution into the form of a concrete, measurable action, such as “Every month, attend at least two events with networking opportunities” or “Spend one afternoon every weekend at a fun event around town.” Being specific also makes it possible to…
Monitoring is almost uncanny in its power. When we monitor a particular behavior, we tend to do a much better job, whether that’s how fast we’re driving, how much we’re eating, how far we’re walking. Keep track, and you push yourself in the right direction.
A resolution like “Read more” can get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Even if it’s valuable, it’s just not urgent. So schedule a specific time for reading, for exercising, for practicing the guitar, and give it a protected slot on your calendar. But it’s crucial to remember that…
When you schedule time to do certain activity, you should do that work, and nothing else. No cleaning, no research, no checking emails. Otherwise, you may work and work, and never get around to doing the very thing you set out to do.
Where do you want to be in two years? How could you develop skills to make your work more interesting and yourself more valuable? Some people prefer to think alone, with a pad of paper; others prefer to talk with a trusted co-worker or old friend; others might hire a coach. Or…
To help explain how people successfully form habits, I’ve identified the “Four Tendencies” personality framework.
This framework divides all of humanity into four types, depending on how they respond to expectations, both outer expectations (meet a work deadline) and inner expectations (start meditating).
Your “response to expectations” may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.
Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (so they meet only inner expectations)
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
Don’t know where you fit? Take the quick online quiz here.
Note: Have you given up making resolutions, because you always break them? Do you rarely let down other people, but you often let yourself down? Do you find it hard to make time for yourself? If so, you’re probably an Obliger. Plus, Obliger is the largest type; it’s the one the most people belong to.
Obligers often struggle with New Year’s resolution, and for Obligers, the answer is external accountability. Work with a trainer, take a class, hire a coach, get an accountability partner, join an accountability group, think of your duty to be a good role model… there are many ways to create outer accountability, when you realize that you need it.
But no matter what your Tendency, the most important thing to remember about habit change is: You must shape your habits to suit yourself—your own nature, your own strengths.
It’s not hard to change your habits, when you know what works for you. And it matters. When you change your habits, when you keep your New Year’s resolutions, you change your life.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of "Better Than Before" and "The Happiness Project." She blogs at GretchenRubin.com.