Picture the scene. It’s New Years Eve and my friend, Mel, says she’s going to run a minimum of 1 mile a day in 2017. I’m immediately enthusiastic and say I’m going to do it too. When I woke up, slightly dull-headed on Jan 1st, I wonder why I said it and just what I’ve let myself in for.
You’ve probably had that feeling too. You’ve no doubt been revved up and full of enthusiasm for the new you that is going to emerge like a freshly-hatched butterfly once you’ve been to the gym every week for six months or been on that diet or kept up that yoga class etc. We have all set out on that road to good intentions and yet we seem often to fall at the first pothole. Then we feel useless, a failure and, more often than not, we give up.
Working as a coach, it is frequently my role to help my clients develop good habits and, of course, turning our resolutions, made any time of the year, into reality is all about developing good habits.
This month, I had a bit of a realisation. I’ve struck ‘good habit forming gold’ almost by accident because here I am, 4 months on and I’m still running a mile a day and so is Mel. So how come I’ve managed to turn my resolution into a daily habit?
I realised I had done 3 things to create the environment to enable my running habit to take root.
Get Information – I’d filled up on as much information as I could about all aspects of running. This had helped me to cement the idea that it was the right thing for me. You need to know how to do the thing you’re trying to do – whether it is health and fitness, business-related, behavioural or developmental. Books, teachers, the Internet are all information resources you can easily access. So ‘gen up’ is my advice.
Get Inspiration – I found myself a role model – a mate who had been running for years and was incredibly fit and I kept him in mind. You need to be able to see what the potential benefits are of what you are intending and to keep these forefront of mind. Fitter people, senior managers or business leaders who inspire you, people who have stopped a bad habit you want to stop – find the one who inspires you.
Get a Community – For me, this has turned out to be the most important factor. I need to be either running alongside others or staying in touch with others aiming for the same goal. However, in Myers Briggs terms, I’m an Extrovert and so being with people is important. But even if you are an Introvert, having someone, even if it is just one person, who can be there to pick you up if you slip from your path and can ‘cheer you on’ when all is going well is likely to be important. No man is an island.
At this point I want to introduce you to Simon. Simon is another ‘community’ member of mine, not for running but for another 2017 intention. We cooked up a plan on New Year’s Eve to stop drinking for 1 year. That’s right, 365 days, all of 2017, not just January. It seemed such a great idea, glass in hand, to make this pledge to each other, “I’ll do it if you do”.
Yes. Believe it or not, 4 months on and both Simon and I are on track. We’ve been cheering each other on, texting when we are tempted and reporting back on a Sunday when we have managed yet another dry weekend. Having a buddy to share the experience with has been so motivating.
So, my call to action, whatever your goal, is to gather information, find a role model and get a buddy to share the journey with you.
Good luck with your new habits and come December, I’ll let you know how Mel, Simon and I have got on.