Quitting isn’t always easy. Whether it’s a New Years’ resolution or a lifestyle change brought on by external forces, it can be really difficult to break a bad habit or give up a guilty pleasure. Thankfully, going cold turkey isn’t your only option going into 2020. As someone who has spent a lot of the last decade having to drastically change my lifestyle and diet, here are just a few of the tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
5. Find a Healthy Alternative
While this may sound like a no-brainer (and it is), finding a suitable alternative to whatever you’re trying to quit is much more nuanced than latching onto the next best thing. First of all, everyone is different so your alternative may also be drastically different from someone else’s. If you are cutting out coffee or resolving to get off the couch more often, you’re probably going to have to try a few different solutions to find the one that best suits your needs, whether that be drinking more tea or jogging early in the morning.
Don’t get too caught up in what has worked for others and what hasn’t worked for you yet. The goal is to transition from one habit or behavior to another. Whatever works for you should be just fine and it’s worth the wait and patience it can sometimes take to find the solution to help achieve your goal.
4. Add Accountability
For some, accountability comes as naturally as breathing. For everyone else, however, finding an external source of accountability will suffice. If you are planning on going to the gym more in 2020, invite a friend to go along with you to keep yourself from flaking. If your resolution is to write more, try scheduling a sprint with another writer to see how many words you can both write in a set amount of time. Sometimes it can be as simple as announcing your latest project or goal to your friends on social media. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t also work on being your own motivating factor, however.
3. Remind Yourself
I can’t speak for everyone, but my biggest barrier to personal progress is often my own memory. It’s much easier to plan for my next day the night before than it is to actually change my behavior in the morning. Like Leonardo De Caprio in Inception, I often carry around a totem that represents whatever goal I’m reaching for as a reminder. For my latest attempts at changing my diet, I wore a bracelet to help remind myself how I feel when I mess up and eat something I’m not supposed to.
Setting up automatic reminders on your phone can be a great way to keep your goal in focus for the new year.
Find something that will help remind yourself of your goal and how important it is to you. It doesn’t have to be a physical object; setting up automatic reminders on your phone can be a great way to keep your goal in focus for the new year.
2. Automate the Process
While technology may very well be one of the things you are quitting in 2020, there are still plenty of tools to take advantage of to keep yourself on track. Smartphones, smart home devices, and other gadgets can help easily automate your goal setting, but something as simple as a paper calendar can do the trick to remind yourself and document your progress.
Once again, finding what works right for you is the goal, so be kind to yourself if whatever process you are trying doesn’t immediately work out for you. These things take patience and practice, but it will be worth it to help keep yourself on track and motivate yourself to keep going. Just think of the relief you’ll feel when you look back at your records to see how far you’ve come.
1. Iterate & Adjust
Sometimes, goals are meant to be reevaluated. Obviously, this is based entirely on the context of your specific situation, but if the scenario warrants it, take the time to look back on the progress you’ve made to ensure that it’s still worth the effort. Quitting smoking cigarettes or excessive drinking will be worth it regardless, but if your goal is to cut down on your cheese intake and it’s seriously impacting your quality of life, maybe it would be worth focusing on something else that will bring you more happiness over the long run.
Don’t get too caught up on the guilt of “failing” your New Years’ resolution if it is at the cost of your general well being. This time of year should be a motivating factor, not another stressor making things harder and more aggravating. If your goals in 2019 don’t match up with your reality in 2020, don’t beat yourself up about shifting your focus and adjusting your plan to reach for a different finish line.
Since you’ve made it this far, I want to wish you the best of luck in 2020!
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese proverb