It's mid-January. If you made one or more New Year’s Resolutions, statistics show that you're probably already teetering, and that by mid-February you'll likely have returned to your old habits. So, we ask, why is change so difficult for you? We understand that it's human nature to strive for improvement, but the new year gives us all another opportunity to try again.
After all, we all want to change. We want to be healthier, more productive and more available to our friends and family.
Accordingly, if like most people, you struggle with sustaining change, know that there are solid business practices which can help you in your personal endeavor. There is also good reason why successful businesses follow those practices: They work. Therefore, before you go back to old habits, try these four tips to make your resolutions "the new normal."
Start with a plan
You wouldn’t start a business without a plan. You need one for your life, as well. Decide what you want to achieve this year. Set goals that are a stretch, but still attainable. Whether it is a healthier lifestyle, more time with friends and family or getting your finances in order, most things are achievable with the right plan. Use the same techniques developed in the business sector to break larger objectives into smaller action items. Prioritize these actions into a to-do list and implement. Occasionally step back and ask yourself if you still want what you set out to achieve and if your plan is effective. If you answer no to either, adjust the plan.
Surround yourself with good people
You can’t run a business without the support of others. The same principle applies to your personal life. It's easier to succeed with an effective support system. Surround yourself with A-players who will back you and your vision. We find that spending time with ambitious, positive people who are working hard to achieve success is a good place to start. Their energy is contagious. Separate yourself from people who are negative, critical, play the victim or are inherently lazy. We find that their vibe can be contagious. Think about it. You wouldn’t keep an employee who worked against your company’s goals, destroyed team morale or complained incessantly. When you are trying to improve your personal life, you will need a supportive team. Choose wisely.
Develop new and improved processes
Keeping the same practices while hoping for change will not work. If you want to lose weight, but continue to eat the same way and maintain your current level of activity, you won't achieve your goals. You must change and improve your processes. As in business, the first step is to examine and document your current processes or habits. For example, if you were trying to quit smoking, document what the situations are, and what the times are when you smoke each day. After examining your current habits, make efforts to change patterns and circumstances where you would normally smoke. Develop new habits to replace the old. Instead of smoking during a work break, for example, go for a 10-minute brisk walk, visit with a colleague or get to that article you've been meaning to read.
Create metrics to measure progress and stay on track
The final step in developing new habits is to create metrics that will help to guide and measure your success. If you are trying to lose weight, tracking your calories each day, your steps and the minutes you spend exercising are a good place to start. At one point, Polly was trying to spend more time with friends -- something that was difficult to fit into her busy schedule. So, she made a plan to go out with friends twice each month and measured her effectiveness with this goal.
She also decided to make commitments to call women friends each week to chat. These calls went on her to-do list as a way to keep her on track. Losing weight, exercising more and managing a budget are all new habits that should be easy to measure. So, do what Polly did: Count and log calories on an app. Record types and length of exercise. Create a budget and map your expenses against your plan. Keeping track can motivate you to continue, as you see your success.
The new year is a time to create and establish better habits. Using tried and true businesses practices can help you to achieve your goals. Remember, these practices used by successful businesses can be easily used in your personal life to boost success.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors