So, we are into the year 2021. How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? I am sorry for asking, but this is may be about the time when we start to slip or have already stopped working on those things we committed to do. It is not you! It is human nature for almost all of us to slide back into old habits and not stick to the new changes we seriously wanted to make.
It can be hard to make the changes we need to make. It can be even harder to stick to our resolve when real life has the nasty habit of getting in the way. Here is a little encouragement to get back to it! I call it anchoring!
Almost every day, I am working directly with someone who wants to change some aspect of their life. Many have already tried “a million times” to change, and they feel like they have failed. By the time they get to me, many have given up and lost hope.
I am grateful to be able to see people at this time because I am very optimistic and believe in the resiliency of people. I really do! I believe we can all change and accomplish our goals. I am very positive in this regard and feel blessed to have been able to help many people.
The concept of anchoring is really quite simple. I am not even sure I came up with the idea, but I have done this for as long as I can remember. I will give an example to illustrate how this works.
I felt strongly about developing the habit of family scripture study with my kids. As most families can attest, something like this can be very difficult to implement–especially when you are trying to get seven people together all at the same time. Then, added bonus, some of them are not awake, some of them are too young to get it, and some are too bored or too cool to want to participate! It is a real challenge. It was for me! However, creating an anchor for the new behavior was the key.
So, I sat down and thought about something we already did well as a family. I quickly realized we did really well at eating dinner together every day. So, the conscious decision was made to have family scripture study at dinner time. After a couple of days of missing it, we chose to put the scriptures in the middle of the kitchen table. Pretty soon, we were having regular scripture study together as a family. It became a natural part of the routine. Everyone remembered because we had first the visual and then the anchor to family dinner time. Most often the young kids would shout out when we got to the table, “Hey! We need to have scripture study!” And so, we did it! It worked.
When things changed in our family, we noticed dinner time was no longer working. So, we looked for a new anchor to attach it to. We were now more confident in the habit but needed to adapt for teenagers and more activities in the evening. So, we counseled together as a family and decided to try at breakfast time. You get the drill. Scriptures on the table read at breakfast, everyone remembers. Anchors are powerful!
So, you get the idea here. When you think about the behavior you wish to change, first think of an activity you are already proficient and consistent at. Then, determine if you can attach your new and desired behavior to that activity. Determine how you will do that, create a reminder system (a sign, the scriptures on the table, etc.), and get started.
If it does not work right away, be patient and strengthen your cues to the new behavior (set an alarm, tell the kids, ask a friend for reminders or check-ins, etc.). Then, watch what happens. When new behavior is anchored to already strong behavior it increases the likelihood of success. Try it!
We can tell you this really works! When I wanted to be a better journal keeper, I anchored it to my daily scripture study (already doing that!). Now I am a regular journal writer. When I wanted to start an exercise routine, I simply anchored it to something I was already doing well. Success helps beget success. It works brilliantly. I highly recommend it!