New Resolutions + New Habits = Transform Your Life.
How to Create an ARE study Habit that Sticks.
It’s mid-January, you’ve made your “get licensed” new year’s resolution, and purchased some ARE 5.0 study materials. But have you taken any real steps toward achieving your goal? Shopping is easy and purchasing stuff we think we need to start working towards our goal feels good. People join a gym, buy workout clothes, or stock their fridge with healthy foods. But that won’t get you to the gym 3 times a week, or force you to eat avocado toast for breakfast. And the study materials you bought...they’re still waiting for you to use them. By March 54% of resolvers have lost motivation and are trying to forget they even made any resolutions. But there is hope. Upon digging into the research I found that the often-cited statistic that just 8% of people actually achieve their resolutions is incorrect. A few copying errors and incorrect sources cited spread the misinformation all over the internet. But I digress. The good news is that 46% of self-reported resolvers were still successful at the six-month mark. How do they do it? Do they have some genetic advantage or a highly classified secret? I don’t think so. But, I wager they’re creatures with good habits.
A simple resolution to get licensed or start taking the ARE isn’t enough. Setting an ambitious goal that is overwhelming and vague isn’t going to cut it. It lacks specificity and isn’t measurable. Like any design project, your resolution requires a plan, delivery system, schedule, and milestones in order to achieve it. This is the first and most crucial step, and it requires some pretty tuff work. You need to be willing to change your behavior, break bad habits and form new ones to create study habits that stick. It’s definitely not easy. It takes effort and time, something most of us barely have enough of. If you skip this step, you’ll struggle to achieve your goal, and it’s probably the reason why you have failed in the past.
To create a realistic plan and form good habits that stick, it’s necessary to understand the power of habits and the decisive role they play in your success or failure. If you’d like to consistently devote time to study, you have to change how you currently spend your time. You must quantify how much time you’re losing to bad habits and transform them into habits that will help you achieve your goal.
Take a hard look at your current routine, schedule, and time-sucking bad habits to figure out how you can reallocate your time. How much time do you spend binge-watching Netflix? You don’t have to give it up entirely just cut back a little. Can you wake up 30 minutes earlier? Are you an iPhone addict, social media or news junkie? Check out your screen time – if you dare. Finding 30 minutes a day will give you close to 4 hours of study time per week. The total amount of time reclaimed will be the time you can dedicate to studying. If you only have an hour, use it. The fact is after 25-30 minutes of studying, our ability to retain information starts to diminish. Long study sessions are not particularly efficient. A shorter duration of deep focus can be more productive and if repeated often will quickly start to add up. Remember, your initial goal is to form a study habit that sticks, which is the key to reaching your ultimate goal of licensure.
Once you’ve determined how much time you can realistically allocate, you need to plan out where and when you’ll study. You may decide to spend 1 hour 3 times per week, at the coffee house near your office, or 30 minutes each morning, or a combination of both. Whatever the plan, include it in your schedule and write it out. For example, during the week, I will [ insert activity and length of time here] at [location] on [time and day(s) of the week].
To establish this new study habit and set yourself up for success you need to establish milestones and build a reward system into your new routine. Initially, you can set smaller milestones at daily and weekly intervals. The rewards you choose should be something you will look forward to and should be reserved solely for this purpose. This reward system is known as a habit loop that will help you build momentum and solidify a habit. As you achieve the initial goal of sticking to a study habit, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, which will quickly replace the need for a material reward as your brain interprets the habit as the reward.
There’s a lot of research about habits and great reads to help you make the changes necessary to achieve your goals, including licensure. Once you understand the transformative power of habits and how they work, you will have the power to transform your life.
It’s your turn!
(Ready to get serious?)