The new approach to New Year resolutions

We all struggle with making the big changes in our lives, but new research shows that there is an easier way to make those improvements


The new approach to New Year resolutions

Identifying our set backs

The biggest mistake that people make when they set out to change anything is to think too big. ‘We encourage people to make small changes to what they do because that is more sustainable,’ says Dr Gardner. ‘Most people focus on the big changes, like having a totally different life by the end of a New Year, when in fact they would create more sustainable change by thinking small,’ says life coach Natalie Thomas. ‘That can then create a ripple effect.’ While it’s easy to think of habits as our enemies, most of us have plenty of helpful habits, too. And the good news is that if we do manage to switch unhelpful for helpful habits in one area, this can often lead to positive changes in other, unrelated areas of our lives. Duhigg talks about ‘keystone habits’- small changes that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of our lives. And these changes really are small, such as getting into the habit of making your bed each day.

‘Making your bed every morning is correlated to better productivity, a greater sense of wellbeing, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget’, Duhigg explains. It’s not that a tidy bed causes ‘better grades’ or ‘less frivolous spending’ but somehow ‘those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold’. How do keystone habits work, then?

Next page: Making it work for you

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