It’s common for people to try to begin new habits in a new year. Resolutions for the new year are a tradition in our society. It seems, however, that it’s common to ditch those resolutions after only a few weeks, reverting back to our old selves and perpetuating many self-destructive behaviors. But there are a few who manage to break through that barrier and keep to their new selves, becoming who they sought to be. So, what’s their secret and how can you achieve your goals, becoming who you want to become?
Bad habits tend to make the person. “He drinks,” or, “she gambles,” or, “They lie.” It’s certainly not the image we desire for ourselves. Just because you might enjoy a drink or occasionally gamble doesn’t mean you get such a statement about you. It’s the persistent habits, the way others perceive you because it’s what you’re constantly showing them. Repeated actions become habits and habits become you. Your repetition becomes the image of who you are to others.
You may not have meant to make certain things a habit. It may have happened accidentally or while you were distracted. Trauma and stress distract a person from who they want to be. Poor coping strategies of trauma and stress create poor habits. If we want to become better, we need to start creating new habits. It’s possible and we’re going to talk about how.
The Root of the Person
A person, at his or her core, is made up of billions and billions of – no, not cells, well yes but – experiences. Our ancestors’ experiences even affect us now. Great-great-great Aunt Mildred may have confiscated the family budget and sent your great-great grandfather to work at a place he met his wife. Maybe that marriage caused them to live in Sweden, or Germany, or immigrate to the US. Whatever happened, you are where and who you are based on all those experiences and choices.
You are also a result of your own experiences and choices. While you can’t be blamed for Mildred’s actions, you are responsible for your own. The way in which we choose our actions is a result of our upbringing and how we have chosen to react to the world and people around us. The key here is choice. We have the power to choose things. We can choose to remain in a situation or we may choose to find a solution, to find something better.
Since life is filled with so much free choice, why aren’t we happy? Well, for one, we can only control our own choices, our own words and actions and reactions. Let’s be honest, some people make terrible choices, selfish choices, or even destructive choices.
Just think: what would you like your descendants to say about your legacy?
Let’s circle back to those resolutions. Why do we make them except to want something better for ourselves? If we want something better, what makes it so difficult to achieve for those millions of Americans that make such promises and fail to keep them? The answer may be poor habits, or even a poor attempt at creating new habits.
“A habit is a routine or practice performed regularly; an automatic response to a specific situation.” ()James Clear, Atomic Habits, 2018
Everyone has habits, some good and some not so good. Watch how someone puts on their shoes or blows their nose. We all do it slightly differently, but, chances are, we do it the same way each time. Imagine you have a way to create a habit that leads you closer, little at a time, to your goals. In doing this, you nearly effortlessly get nearer to achieving your goals with less and less effort the more something becomes habit.
New Year, New Habits, New You
Maybe your resolution was to quit smoking. Maybe it’s to play the piano or learn a language. Or maybe it’s to make more money. Whatever the goal, the road there is clearer when you have the tools needed to move through obstacles and navigate to success. Creating new habits in the new year can help create a new you, the you you desire to be.
On January 8th, Paul Hackett, FRC’s Lead Coach Trainer, is launching an Atomic Habits course which will guide attendees through the principles of James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. This is FREE to first responders and their families! The book is available in print, Kindle, and Audible. It’s packed with information and life-changing, habit-forming techniques proven to bring a person through challenges and into the place they want to be. Paul breaks it down and helps readers navigate the important points and application of creating new habits that lead to success and growth. You can register here.
Honestly, the last couple years have more than gotten us down. Many are raising the white flag. Let’s figure out our goals, decide who we want to be, and start building new habits that break us free. It’s time to move forward one tiny change at a time.