Perspectives

MOVING MOUNTAINS: PERSPECTIVES ON FORMING POSITIVE HABITS

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? How’s it going? Recent studies have shown that less than 1 in 10 people stick to the resolution to the end of the year with 80% of resolutions going by the wayside before the end of January. What this tells us is that changing habits or developing new ones isn’t easy. Positive habits are good for our personal lives, but they’re also essential for innovation, for leadership, and for operating effectively in the workplace.
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? How’s it going? Recent studies have shown that less than 1 in 10 people stick to the resolution to the end of the year with 80% of resolutions going by the wayside before the end of January. What this tells us is that changing habits or developing new ones isn’t easy. Positive habits are good for our personal lives, but they’re also essential for innovation, for leadership, and for operating effectively in the workplace.

MOVING MOUNTAINS: PERSPECTIVES ON FORMING POSITIVE HABITS

The Great Chinese Philosopher Confucius is reported to of said…
“When you want to move a mountain, start by carrying away small stones.”
It’s the same with habits. But there’s a few other hints and tips that we’ve uncovered in our research into our forthcoming white paper on Leadership 4.0. We’ve been exploring forming and breaking habits by talking to individuals who’ve succeeded..

Know What Mountain You’re Trying to Move

We found those who were successful at building positive habits expressed their resolutions as specific positive actions rather than as vague intentions. So while the less persistent used language like “I want to get fitter”, “I want to be more assertive” the successful habit-changers talked about what exactly what they wanted to achieve and what they were going to do to get there.

eg I’m going to get fit. How fit exactly? What does that look like? How will you know when you’ve achieved it? What exactly will you do to get there?

Know Your Motivation For Moving The Mountain

Whether you’re looking to stop doing something or start something new, you must have had a reason. The more compelling the reason the greater your motivation will be to see it through. One person we spoke to had lost his father to pancreatic cancer and, determined to live a healthier life, decided to enter the London Marathon. A key part of his motivation was to raise money for Cancer Research. This kept him going throughout his training and on the day itself. He now runs two marathons a year and loves his new hobby and improved health.

Two Tips on How To Move The Moutain

Some resolutions are less compelling. They’re changes we feel we ought to make. An understanding of habits can help us with the how. Habits are symptoms of our self-conscious running our lives, doing the same thing in the same way at the same time. The key is to interrupt what’s triggering your behaviour. This is particularly helpful when it’s something you want to give up doing rather than start doing.

For example, if your resolution is to drink less coffee, instead of picking up a coffee on the way to work, give that £3 to the first homeless person you see or walk a different way to work to avoid that café. If you resolve to give up smoking, when your colleagues ask you to join them for your usual cigarette break at lunchtime, find a colleague who wants to go for a walk instead.

Break it down into smaller steps really works. One of the people we spoke to committed to a Dry January and gave up alcohol for a month. They felt so good at the end of the month that they decided to go for a Dry February too. Three years later they’re still alcohol-free and loving the extra time, energy and clear-headedness that comes with it.

When Should You Start?

The beginning of the year may seem like a logical time to start something new. However, for those who have had a busy or stressful Christmas period, it is one challenge too many. Pick a time when you can really commit to the change you want to make.

So when you’re ready to start tackling your challenge of making or breaking your habits, be clear on what it is you’re trying to achieve, why you’re doing, and how you’re going to do it. This is a sure way to set yourself up for success.

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