Did you make a ritual?

 Jan 18, 2016

How have you gone with your New Calendar Year’s resolutions?

According to University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, the statistics on resolution keeping do not bode well for our success. The statistics are on the American population but are probably a reasonable guide for Australia. Only 8% of those who make New Year’s resolutions are successful at maintaining them and only 43% of people actually make them at all. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they don’t use January 1 as a yardstick and make changes at other times, but I fear that they avoid making them at all, knowing they don’t quite have the discipline to pull it off.

The idea of only making concerted efforts to change ourselves at the beginning of a new year rather than any other time is a bit silly, but at least if it works for 43% of the population then that is a good thing. It is the 8% completion rate that is a bit concerning, along with the other 57% who are not motivated to make change at all.

These are separate issues and the 57% not getting started is a little more complex to deal with than the 43% who already have the desire but lack the discipline to keep it up, so let’s deal with the second group.

In our Time Management course we discuss the idea of effective goal setting tied into prioritising the time to attend to your quest(s). But we go a bit further than that too. The key to being successful at behavioural change, is not necessarily the goal, it is the habits we form around the goal. Making rituals in our day around the tedious unappealing things is what keeps a person continuing versus being distracted and/or giving up.

Apparently Jerry Seinfeld had a great way of creating a ritual of writing jokes early in his career. It was called the unbroken chain and has great impetus in creating positive habits. His advice was to buy a Year Planner and a red felt tip pen and put the planner in a visible place on a wall. Each day you do the desired behaviour, you cross it off in red pen. The idea is that you never want to see a gap in the chain.

Of course you could still fail with this technique but it does add a nice visual inspiration and many people swear by it.

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters' degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor's degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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