09/01/2018 12:12 SAST | Updated 09/01/2018 12:12 SAST

Always Fail To Stick To New Year Goals? Blame Old Habits

Like Bruce Willis, they really die hard.

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Die-hard habits may be to blame for our inability to stick to well-intentioned New Year's resolutions. That's because 90 percent of our normal behaviour is based on habit.

"We are creatures of habits, both good and successful ones, but also bad and unsuccessful ones," says Tony de Gouveia, a clinical psychologist at Akeso Clinic Alberton.

De Gouiveia explained that the average response time in changing any habit is 21 days or approximately three to four week, but the problem is that most people give up before then -- and this is why they seem to not stick to their resolutions.

We are creatures of habits, both good and successful ones, but also bad and unsuccessful ones.

He believes resilience, confidence and setting realistic timelines are necessary tools in achieving goals we set for ourselves every year.

"A resilient, adaptable mindset with realistic and flexible expectations, as well as the ability to self-correct in the face of the strongest of winds (resistance), are powerful coping mechanisms."

This is best cultivated through developing positive habits which through time and repetition eventually become hardwired and automatic, requiring little conscious effort.

"Moreover, there is an underlying factor that needs to be highlighted: namely, confidence. Confidence is the enabler that allows us to carry out any goal, no matter how difficult it may be," he says.

"Our goals also need to be focused on a specific area –– for example weight or smoking –– and essentially should be measurable (kilograms, centimetres), with targets specified –– namely, the ideal weight."

"There are no unrealistic, unachievable goals –– only unrealistic time-frames. To expect to lose 5kg in five days will never work. But unless a time-frame is specified, there is no sense of urgency –– and the goal invariably is not realised; it simply gets postponed, often indefinitely."