January 19th. That’s it. That’s the date research has predicted most people will abandon their New Year’s resolutions. Is that because people lack willpower? Not at all. It’s because we approach changing habits in a way that doesn’t work for us (more on this in a second).
What is the impact on our emotional well-being to continuously set “resolutions” for ourselves, only to see them falter within two months? For many of us, it leads to a sense of failure and potentially increased depression or anxiety.
and how does this impact our children?
Most of us center New Year’s resolutions around big ways that we can “do better” or “be better”- losing weight, exercising more, getting our inbox down to zero, showing more gratitude. But the message we may be inadvertently sending is that we are constant self-improvement projects and that we never quite measure up.
What if instead, we showed our children that we are good enough exactly as we are? Instead of major overhauls, we can teach our children how to build small but realistic but most importantly- impactful and lasting habits.
Start by identifying specific habits you want to develop and break them down into the smallest manageable part.
Use the science of Habit Stacking. Take a habit you already have and tack on the new, tiny habit you want to develop. For example, if I want to take time to deep breathe in the morning, I can add 10 deep breaths while waiting for the Keurig to brew my coffee. Tiny habits can bring incredible change over time as you build. Here are some other examples:
“After I leave a meeting, I will stretch for 30 seconds”
“After I brush my teeth, I will drink one glass of water”
“After I close my computer, I will text my mother”
“After I lay my head on the pillow, I will think of one good thing from the day”
The more we experience positive emotions related to our habits, the more automatic they become. It becomes much easier to make lasting change built from small habits. And when we stop engaging the “new year, new you” fallacy, we will show our children that we are all good-enough human beings exactly as we are.
We might even come to believe it ourselves.
So here I am. It’s 2022. I haven’t joined the gym. My inbox is far from zero. New Year. Same Me. I’m just a psychologist. Sitting in front of a computer. Asking you to love you.