Why New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me but making good habits do

Why New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me but making good habits do

I am a serial New Year’s resolution breaker. No sooner have I uttered my resolution, I go and break it. New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me. But I have discovered what is working, is creating and sticking to good habits.

Gretchen Rubin’s Working Better Than Before

I read Gretchen Rubin’s Working Better Than Before earlier this year, to understand how to ditch bad habits and make good habits and intentions stick.

I was interested in finding out why all my good intentions always tended to end in failure such as my weight loss efforts (I’m a Weight Watchers starter, stopper and finally quitter, the points system bores me, then I start cheating – that one little itty bitty chocolate hobnob doesn’t really matter), my attempts at giving up sugar have failed  (impossible when living in France) and I now have a serious pain au chocolat habit, which I am a little reluctant to quit!

The key is understanding your expectations when creating a new habit

This is was the eye-opener for me.

There are two types of expectations.

Outer expectations such as deadlines, rules, and regulations

Inner expectations such as quitting smoking, cutting out sugar (expectations we make of ourselves)

How we respond to expectations

Gretchen Rubin has classified people into four categories based on how we respond to an expectation. And this is crucial when we are thinking about making a new habit.

  • The upholder meets outer and inner expectations
  • The questioner resists outer expectations but meets inner expectations
  • The obliger meets outer expectations but resists inner expectations
  • The rebel doesn’t give a crap about expectations!

Want to know what type you are?

If you are interested in finding out how you respond to expectations, then take Gretchen Rubin’s quiz, it only takes a couple of minutes. And if you want your expectations report, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter.

Me? How do I respond to expectations?

Uh oh, I’m a rebel!

As a New Year’s resolution commitment-phobe I am classed as a rebel.

The only real good habit I have managed to sustain (for the past 12 years – not bad!) is running, and that’s had its stops, starts, stop-again, start-again, but I have kept on going.

Why I am a habit rebel

According  to Gretchen Rubin’s habit report, I am a rebel because I:

  • Choose to act from a sense of choice, of freedom. Rebels wake up and think, “What do I want to do today?” They resist control, even self-control, and usually enjoy flouting rules and expectations.
  • Place a high value on authenticity and self-determination, and bring an unshackled spirit to what they do. Rebels work toward their own goals, in their own way, and while they refuse to do what they’re “supposed” to do, they can accomplish their own aims.
  • Often frustrate others because they can’t be asked or told to do anything. They don’t care if “people are counting on you,” “you said you’d do it,” “your parents will be upset,” “it’s against the rules,” “this is the deadline,” or “it’s rude.” In fact, asking or telling Rebels to do something often makes them do just the opposite.

Source: Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before

A lot of this does ring true for me.

I hate control. But I am happy to achieve things in my own way. And I can be pretty bad at being told what to do. But I do get there in the end, but it’s my way.

My habits for 2017

Keep on running

Running is the exercise of rebels. It makes me feel good, strong and fearless.

I now have a little buddy to accompany me, my pup Lucius. I can run when I want. I don’t have to pitch up to a class, at a set time and place. It’s just a matter of stepping out the door and off I go.

For 2017, I am going to keep on running.

Be a better blogger

I sort of got my blog set up and sort of started taking my blogging more seriously.

But I am an erratic blogger, I can undermine myself when the little voice at the back of my mind, makes all sorts of excuses for not writing a post. But I have received some great feedback which keeps me going (thank you, readers!).

For 2017, I want to be a better, and more consistent blogger.

I will continue to learn French

I have surprised myself that I haven’t quit.

I am still learning French. It’s been an uphill struggle, learning verbs, vocabulary, and perfecting the French accent.

I’m now on my third teacher. The one-to-one tuition is working out for me, my teacher pushes and challenges me as well as encourages me.

I’ve been learning French for over a year moving from bad restaurant French, to being able to call out a plumber in French – that’s a major achievement for me!

For 2017, I going to stick to learning and trying to speak French.

Who is Gretchen Rubin?

Gretchen is a former lawyer, living in New York, she’s written a number of books including the Happiness Project, Happier at Home and keeps a blog about her pursuit of happiness. Not a bad thing to pursue. She also produces podcasts and is an all round social media superstar.

I’ll leave it to you to check out Gretchen Rubin.

Photo credit, Raphael Love courtesy of Flickr

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  1. January 10, 2017 / 11:59 am

    I don’t make any resolutions either as I just break them. I like this idea of habits, and I hope you stick at them. My one and only for 2017 is to keep organised and tidy in every part of my life. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x
    Laura – Dear Bear and Beany recently posted…Living Arrows 02/52 {2017}My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      January 11, 2017 / 9:57 am

      I think habits are the way forward!

  2. Carolina Twin Mom / Mary Peterson
    January 8, 2017 / 3:55 am

    May I offer my observation? If you are a runner….even an *occasional* runner….you have some serious willpower! I can not think of an activity much more grueling, especially during the more extreme weather.

    I believe that if you can do that, you can do about anything!
    Carolina Twin Mom / Mary Peterson recently posted…Advice for the “Accumulation Nation” ~ Time to Declutter Your Kitchen!!!My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      January 8, 2017 / 6:56 pm

      I can’t quite believe I went out on New Year’s Day and it was freeeezing! Once you get into running there is something very addictive about it. And thank you for your wonderful comment!

  3. January 7, 2017 / 7:56 pm

    Best of luck with making your habits stick. I’ve not made any resolutions this year, but have put in place some goals. Hopefully I should keep them, according to this I’m an upholder! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…5 Happy Things #29My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      January 8, 2017 / 6:55 pm

      I’m sure you will be sticking to your goals, a rebel like me would probably let them slide. Hope 2017 is super fab for you!

    • Tooting Mama
      January 11, 2017 / 8:58 am

      Thank you!

  4. January 6, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    Yes! This is perfect for me. As soon as I set a resolution I tend to rebel against it!! A habit is much more productive!!! #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Tooting Mama
      January 11, 2017 / 8:59 am

      Hello fellow rebel, habits seem to work for me, but I just have to be careful about which ones I pick! Hope you start a couple of new habits this year.

  5. Kerry Norris
    January 6, 2017 / 8:22 am

    That book sounds interesting. Think I should read it. I’d like to take up running x
    Kerry Norris recently posted…Funny Posts from 2016My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      January 6, 2017 / 9:12 am

      The book is very interesting, it gave me a good insight to my constant inability to keep habits going and how to address that. And taking up running, all I can say is GO FOR IT!

  6. January 5, 2017 / 11:02 am

    I really want to read this book. Making good habits really is the way to change your behaviour. I’m interested in what I am, off to take the quiz now. x

    • Tooting Mama
      January 5, 2017 / 2:25 pm

      Brilliant! I’d love to know what you are – swing by and tell me!

  7. January 5, 2017 / 10:51 am

    I am terrible at sticking to new years resolutions, I am forever joining and quitting Slimming world. x
    Newcastle Family Life recently posted…Christmas 2016My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      January 5, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      I know that quitting feeling! Just start a habit instead!

  8. January 4, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    I never make proper resolutions. I have just made goals instead

    • Tooting Mama
      January 5, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      Yes and they are brilliant goals too.

  9. January 4, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    I am no good at resolutions, I am focusing on a Family Bucket List this year instead. I think habits are definitely the way to go!

    • Tooting Mama
      January 5, 2017 / 2:20 pm

      I love the sound of the bucket list – fantastic!

    • Tooting Mama
      January 5, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      I think a bucket list is a fabulous idea.

  10. January 4, 2017 / 11:58 am

    I love the idea of working on habits which seems to be a much more sustainable way of doing things!

    • Tooting Mama
      January 11, 2017 / 9:00 am

      Thank you Talya.

  11. January 4, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Running is my thing too, I swear I plan all my best blog posts over a good run! Happy New Year #BloggerClubUK

    • Tooting Mama
      January 11, 2017 / 9:01 am

      Running is my blog planning time too – what multi-tasker runners we are!

  12. January 4, 2017 / 9:47 am

    Oh my word I think I’m a rebel too – hate being told what to do! Oh this sounds so super interesting! I’m going to have to buy the book – her others sound good too so thank you for the recommendation. I love that you’re going to try and blog more – pain au chocolate and laptops make fabulous IG photos!! #BloggerClubUK
    justsayingmum recently posted…Owning MotherhoodMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      January 11, 2017 / 9:51 am

      Hello fellow rebel! The book is really interesting, helped me uncover a few home truths about myself!

    • Tooting Mama
      January 4, 2017 / 9:24 am

      I know, I can’t be bothered with resolutions either, habits are they way to go. Are there any good habits you plan starting this year?

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