New Years Resolution Time

How you can use habits to make your New Year’s resolutions stick?

newyear_resolution_1024x1024I just finish listening to Atomic Habits by James Clear. An insightful and powerful read. Clear reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. If you have read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, there are a number of similarities and the books complement each other.

They both offers frameworks for improving–every day. And provide practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Charles Duhigg describes how a habit can be formed and how it can be changed. He calls this the Habit Loop. The Habit Loop is composed of the Cue > the Routine > the Reward.

  1. The Cue is some type of trigger that unfolds a set of behavior automatically. A cue can be a certain time of day, a place, an emotion, or being with a certain group of people.
  2. The Routine is the set of behavior that is automatically unfolded because the cue happened. This can be a good routine, like walking up early and exercising, or a bad habit, like smoking when you feel stressed.
  3. The Reward is the most important part, because that is why habits exist.

Duhigg shares that every habit essentially functions the same way: a cue (trigger), a routine (series of actions), and a reward (goes without saying). In some way, the reward poweris the most important part because we’re doing the sequence of cue then routine to get the reward. So, if you want to shift your habits, then you essentially need to find ways to manipulate your cue (time of day, environment, etc.), your routine (going to get fast food, smoke a cigarette, etc.), or your reward structure (how you reward the new routine).

James Clear’s takes a slightly different approach. He defines his framework as the Four Laws of Behavior Change. The Four Laws of Behavior Change consists of a four-step loop that underlies all of human behavior: Cue, Cravings, Response, and Reward. When repeated, this neurological feedback loop leads to the formation of new habits.

  1. Cue; Make it obvious
  2. Craving; Make it attract
  3. Response; Make it easy
  4. Reward; Make it satisfying

Clear shares that if you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. In his book he shares a proven system that can take you to new heights.Atomic

A common belief is that motivation is something that gets you going. The truth is that motivation kicks-in after you’ve get going. Harvard psychologist, Dr. Jerome Bruner, said, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling, than feeling yourself into action.”

Rather than optimizing your life for the finish line, Atomic Habits teaches you how to optimize your life for the beginning of your journey. If you can get some quick small wins, you’ll start to develop some confidence, motivation, and momentum. Then, if you have a system in place to keep you going, then that system and process will take you where you want to go.

As you start to plan for 2019, focus on the START, not the FINISH. Build systems (your process) and then habits that can organically take you where you want to go. And make 2019 your best year yet.


Questions of the week:

  • What is the first step that I need to take to create some small wins and positive momentum?
  • Who should I share/ partner on my system with (accountability partner)?
  • What does my best year yet look like?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.

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Kris Klinger is an accomplished visionary and leader. He lives in Downtown Los Angeles and is a staff and faculty member at the University of Southern California. Kris is passionate about nurturing and supporting strong servant-leader and employee-centric cultures. Cultivating transparency and trust; honest and candid communication; personal and professional development; individual and team empowerment. He is also an author working on his first book.

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