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4 Tips on Forming Habits to Achieve your 2015 Resolutions

Are you resolving to form new habits for 2015, like exercising more, or writing 1,000 words a day? Obviously you have an iron resolve and will-power. But, just in case you don't (and if you need all the help you can get) then take this excellent online SkillShare class called Design Your Habits.

I had a goal to workout 3 times a week in 2014, and, after taking the class, I increased my weekly average number of workouts from 1.5 to 3. Yay! It's been 2 months and it's still working.

The class has a lot of tips that I had never thought of before to maintain your habit. Here are just a few:

Check it off a list

Every time you complete your task, check it off a list. Jerry Seinfeld famously used this method to keep him at the daily task of writing: "Seinfeld ... hangs a ...calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he had the exquisite pleasure that can only come from drawing a big red "X" over that day." You can do it old-school or on an app like XXX

Think of Excuses Before hand

Think of all the excuses you have not to complete your task, ahead of time. For example, if you're trying to exercise, then when the time comes, you may say "I don't have the time" or "It's raining and I can't jog". For each of these, think whether they are legitimate (eg, you're sick. Fair enough), or not legitimate, and how to work around it. So, for "I don't have the time" you can have a short, 5 minute workout up your sleeve. For "It's raining and I can't jog" you can have an indoor circuit training workout ready.

Create easier versions of your task

Prepare progressively easier versions of your task. So, my task is to do a 20 minute workout video every morning. The easier version is to do a 10 minute workout video. An even easier version is to do this 7 minutes New York Times Workout app. The next easiest version is to put on my workout clothes and walk up and down the stairs once.

Now, when I wake up in the morning and really can't face my 20 minute workout, I go down the list until I find one I can face. I made the last one so stupidly easy that I really can't say no. When I do an easier version, I have achieved my workout for the day.

Is this a cop-out? Well, the hardest part of keeping a habit is getting the momentum. Each morning you're in bed and comfortable, and getting up and putting on your workout clothes is more than half the battle. Once you have them on, you'll find yourself thinking - well, I might as well do that 20 minute workout.

Prepare your environment

Make sure that you prepare your environment so that it's very, very easy to do your task. Whatever difficulties you have in getting ready to exercise, note them down and fix it. For example, each morning I need to find my workout gear in the dark and not wake my husband. This is hard work. Solution? Wear my workout clothes to bed.

Go now and take the class. It's the best thing you can do to maintain your goals for 2015.

And let me know in the comments if you've got more ideas on how to maintain your resolutions.


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