No doubt you made New Year’s resolutions, deciding that from now on, you will become the perfect startup founder, and you have already made your list of most wanted behaviors in 2024. But before you start changing your daily routines, you might first want to dig into the reasons why most resolutions fail. And from there deploy the best tactics to make sure that you will succeed at yours.
Almost like startups
Let’s start with the bad news: when it comes to success rates, New Year’s resolutions kind of resemble startups themselves: most of them simply fail. Of all the people who make resolutions, only 8-10% are actually successful in keeping them all year round. This means that the failure rate is 90% or more. Sounds familiair, no?
And just like startups, your failure to keep your resolution can be accounted for a very limited amount of reasons. Thankfully, these failures can be prevented if you know what to look for. Did you know, for instance, that one of the best-known reasons for resolution failure is that people tend to be way too ambitious when they make a pledge to change their habits?
Too ambitious resolutions
So you are indeed among those who are vowing to do things better next year. Say that in order to improve your productivity you are planning on taking more breaks or getting more sleep. After reading our blogs and a whole bunch of articles and books, you know exactly what to do. And because you are always striving to be the best, you are going to do it perfectly right from the start.
That means no half-measures, you are going for the real thing: 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep instead of a mere 5 to 6. Maybe you are determined to replace the ‘eat-behind-your-computer lunch’ with real outdoor lunch breaks. And then we’re not even talking about the most popular one of all (or maybe the least…): exercising! You probably want to go to the gym three times a week from now on, right?
… Wrong! …
Sure, it would be really good if you got plenty of sleep, took a real break during lunch, and got in shape. It would definitely benefit your health and your startup business. To be honest, it will probably even diminish your chances of startup failure (really!). But even we here at Curbn are getting a little stressed over goals like these.
So, here’s our unexpected response:
… Please don’t do it!
Or maybe we should put it a little differently: do it, but do it differently. Because here’s the one thing that everybody keeps underestimating (especially while running a startup): how are you ever going to find the time to do all those things?
A new habit should be easy
Let’s be clear on this: there is no problem in setting your goals and making them big. If you aim high and you miss, you will still have accomplished more than you would have if you had aimed lower. But in cases like these, it’s better to be a little bit more humble about what you can do. If you really want to be successful, it’s better to be a little bit more realistic: aim for the low-hanging fruit.
The reason for that is that changing your behavior really takes time. You are not going to build your new habit overnight. Although… A study published in 2010 in the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that some people were able to pick up on a new simple habit quite fast: it only took them 18 days. But other participants went slower, just a bit: it took them as long as 254 days! So you can see that there’s quite a bit of variation, with an average of 66 days.
If you really want to be successful, don’t assume you will be among the group of fast changers. Make sure you will be able to maintain the new habits you want to instill because you will need to repeat and repeat them until they are deeply ingrained.
Start small… oh well, first ‘start’
But hold on! Before we talk about engraining a habit, let’s first talk about starting that new habit. Because if you don’t get off the couch to make it to your bed on time, you will never be able to practice a better sleep routine.
The way to do that is to make it really easy, so you won’t hesitate to start them. Simply look at the smallest possible change you can accomplish without experiencing any resistance. So start with setting an alarm around the time you normally go to bed, even if that is really late. And now chomp off 5 minutes. If you normally go to bed around 2 AM, now aim for 1.55 and slowly work your way down from there. Same with exercising and any other resolution you might have: start small and first establish a new routine. Then build on it, step by step.
A new habit is like a startup product
Recognize this? It’s probably what you are doing in your startup as well: start with a rough version and then improve. It really is a proven strategy, in startups as well as big corporations. And yes, this is also proven to work when changing personal habits. So go for it. But keep it small at first.
There’s a lot more to explain about creating new habits and being more successful in keeping them. But let’s leave it at this for the moment. Like that small and reachable New Year’s resolution it’s a start. Hopefully it will help you to begin your year just a little bit better and easier.
Share your plans…
Did you know that writing your resolutions down increases the odds that you will succeed? We would be really happy if you could share your plans for the new year with us.
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