For those of you who follow our blog, you may have noticed a recent article called
Let's Talk about Last Year's Resolution
This blog proposes the concept of gathering data about what worked about your resolution and what didn't. It also focuses on some expert tips for making your resolutions actually happen (spoiler alert: a resolution is really just a new habit, which can be established at any time of the year).
To support you in the process of creating new habits. According to
this podcast in the Harvard Review with author Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We do What We Do in Life and Business,
habit has three key components:
a cue, a routine, and a reward
Duhigg goes on to say that most people focus on the routine behind the desired habit, but
it's actually the cue and the reward that shape the final outcome. Focusing on the behavior alone is why our resolutions often fail.
Experiencing a conscious thought about what you'd like to do differently occurs in the prefrontal cortex, where new thoughts are processed. This is where working memory is located, and many of us put a large burden on this part of the brain as we try to juggle our busy lives. David Allan's quote from
Getting Things Done
, which states that "
your brain is for having ideas, not for holding them
" is based on the notion that we process these kinds of thoughts in the prefrontal cortex, but they don't get to stay there.
Once a habit becomes automatic, it moves to the basil ganglia, which is located in the center of the brain. This means that it is now more permanently housed in your brain, and has become part of your routine.
As stated, in order to get a habit to the basil ganglia, you have to focus on the cue and the reward, rather than the behavior itself. There are lots of great ways to do that, including things like adding reminders to your phone, getting an accountability partner, and piggypacking the new habit onto an already existing habit.
Our electronic age provides new apps and programs designed to trigger that cue and reward system. Here is a list of some great ones to get you started:
This is a free habit app that provides reminders, motivational quotes, and the option of tracking your habit. It also features a community of like-minded people trying to achieve the same goals as you.
The great thing about this free web app is that it allows you to tackle a larger goal by breaking it down into smaller, actionable chunks. This is an excellent option for those who tend to get overwhelmed with large tasks.
Go F***ing do it
This website allows you to choose a habit, a sum of money to put towards achieving it, a deadline and a witness. If you don't complete the goal, you lose your money.
If one of your goals is to increase personal productivity, TimeStats is a great motivator. It is a Chrome extension that keeps track of how much time you spend on websites you visit. Just knowing that you are tracking your own time can be a great reminder, or cue, to stay focused.
This app helps create a habit by gameifying the process - turning your personal wins and losses into part of the game that is part of a social network of other gamers working along side you to achieve goals of their own.