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To Hell with New Year's Resolutions, Just Form One Good Habit

So, how are those New Year’s resolutions coming? It’s only a few days into the year, so I’m sure they’re going great. Or are they?

If you missed last week’s post, Why New Year’s Resolutions Suck, you know my opinion of them. Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions are destined to fail even before the year begins. If you’re one of the rare few who can accomplish them, then more power to you. If not, keep on reading.Form Good Habits

So if New Year’s resolutions suck, should you just give up on trying to make a change in your life? Of course not, but change is hard and resolutions can be overwhelming.

Resolutions need to be broken down into habits. Whether it’s getting rid of a bad habit or forming a good one, new habits create change. Yet, as we all know, new habits aren’t easy to form. They take time, which of course everyone claims to have none of (ahem).

New habits are the building blocks to accomplishing your resolutions. Forming a new habit of running 4 days a week is what’s going to help you accomplish your resolution of running a half marathon.

Forming a new habit of working out 3 days a week is what’s going to help you accomplish your resolution of losing 15 pounds. Forming a new habit of getting to work 1 hour early is what’s going to help you accomplish your resolution of getting a promotion. You get the point.

Now you’re probably asking yourself how you actually form these habits. Well, like anything that’s associated with change, it doesn’t happen overnight. If it were easy then we’d all have perfect habits, be in perfect health, have a perfect lifestyle, etc.

So how long does it take to form a new habit? It used to be said it took 21 days to form a new habit. This revolution came from a plastic surgeon named Dr. Maltz back in the 50’s. He found it took a patient about 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Apparently, he also did some self-evaluation and it normally took himself a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit.

Well over the decades that followed, all of the self-help guru’s (think Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins) began to spread this message that it took 21 days to form a new habit. The thing is everyone was forgetting one key word in what Dr. Maltz said; minimum. He wasn’t saying it took exactly 21 days to form a new habit, but rather a minimum of 21 days.

Through various studies over the years, it’s actually been found it takes about 2 months to form a new habit. This is a good thing for everyone (me included) who thought they were a failure when a new habit wasn’t sticking after 3 weeks. Remember, change is hard and it takes your mind a while to get used to that change and turn it into a habit.

So now that we know it takes about two months to form a new habit, how in the world are we supposed to make it that long? Well, lucky for you technology is making it a little easier for us.

There are numerous apps out there that can help, but one I started using about 6 months ago is called HabitBull (free on iPhone and Android). It’s had a profound effect on my habit forming goals.

Here’s a screenshot that lists some of the bullet points about the app.

HabitBull

One of the most important features, in my opinion, are the reminders you set up. For me, they are a huge motivator. I set mine up bright and early in the morning and then again a couple more times throughout the day to ensure I’m staying on track. I don’t want to see any red on my calendar (you’ll know what I mean when you get the app).

Alright, so let’s put a bow on this post and wrap it up for the week. Resolutions suck and habits are good. New habits take time to develop so don’t think it’s going to happen overnight (try 2 months). Check out HabitBull and see if it can help you.

It’s all up to you now, so get to work! Best of luck with forming your new habits in 2017!

This is a post from Clint Haynes, a Certified Financial Planner®® in Lee’s Summit, MO. He is also founder and owner of NextGen Wealth. You can learn more about Clint at the website NextGen Wealth.
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