January 12 is the day statisticians say you are most likely to quit your New Year's resolution. As my colleague Jeff Haden notes, others argue it is January 19. Either way, you're in danger of falling behind on your resolution - assuming you haven't already.

Here's how to get your habits back on track, ideally for good.

Make sure your system in place

Willpower won't give you long-term change. A good system will, though.

Motivation expert B. J. Fogg has a simple formula:

Behavior equals motivation times ability times trigger.

As I shared recently, you need to be motivated to adapt, have the ability to change and a trigger to start your process.. I suspect many habits fall apart quickly because one of these three elements is missing.

Make sure your goal fits

Are you going after the right goal? There is honor in quitting, or at least more honor than continuing just because you haven't come up with something wiser to do.

Don't fall into the trap of sunk costs, or, in modern economic parlance, throwing good money after bad money:

First, doubling down doesn't equal success. Sometimes it just isn't time for your goal to be reached. Second, your goals may not fit your needs. The weight of a bad goal far outstrips any benefits of persistence.

Spread your attention

Sometimes it takes a little more time to figure out what habits are best and which will stick. January 1st is fairly arbitrary. (I started my resolutions back in December.) There is no shame in actually planting several seeds and seeing which practices become the most important and vital to your life.

I like Jenny Blake's Kentucky Derby race analogy where you let your ideas loose and see which come out on top:

Do it all. Treat it as an experiment. Use time to determine your best bet.

Even the most pressing resolutions - from losing weight to rebuilding a relationship - require time to build momentum.

Did you quit this week? Forgive yourself. You've got 97 percent of the year left.

Published on: Jan 13, 2020
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