How to Keep Your New Year’s ResolutionsOn January 2, 2021 by admin
I hate New Year’s resolutions. I hate them. They are always too extreme and don’t work to create lasting change. In my experience, lasting change starts with small, consistent steps. I have been successful in creating big change in my life (weight loss, dental habits, building and maintaining this site) mostly due to making small changes and remaining consistent. Here I have broken down what caused me to be successful in making lasting changes in my life.
ADD ONE THING
The first step in any lasting change is to add one thing to your current routine that is actionable, simple, and doesn’t take much time investment. When I started lifting heavy weights I didn’t start by knowing every important compound lift. I started with the basics- just add one weighted squat to your workout. Learn to do that squat correctly; add weight as you develop strength. I could have done one exercise for my hamstrings at 10-12 reps 3 sets each, then another for my quads, then another for my glute max. Instead, I chose one compound move to perfect. I can add the focused moves in later.
In any habit you want to develop it is most sustainable to choose the first step and commit to it. Figure out the most effective step for the time spent and commit to doing it regularly. Whether it is perfecting a squat and doing it 3-4 times a week or committing to flossing daily, if you choose your one thing and add that to your routine you have taken huge strides to getting results that are sustainable.
DON’T OVERWHELM YOURSELF BY THINKING TOO FAR AHEAD
One of the big things that deters me from making a committed change is thinking too far into the future. Sometimes I think about the many steps in front of me. Sometimes I don’t know what the steps ahead will look like but I do know that there will be many ahead. If I indulge this thought process I am likely to get overwhelmed and give up before I even begin.
When you catch yourself thinking ahead of what you can actually do now, make the decision to say “NO” to that thought trail and refocus on the steps you can take now. Many times as we continue to walk the path of habit changing we will see the next steps as we approach them, but usually not before we are in a place to apply them in our lives.
BE AWARE TO ADD OR PIVOT AS YOU WALK OUT CHANGE
As you commit to adding your “one thing” and it becomes a habit you have maintained, now you can decide what additionally your routine can handle to move you into the result that you want.
For example, as I perfected my squat I added weight as my strength grew. As my strength grew and as my routine was feeling more and more natural I was ready to add another habit to my routine. This next step could be another “time for investment” big step, or one small thing to add depending on what you think you can handle.
If I was confident in my squat and felt I could commit to another big lift I could add perfecting a deadlift to my routine. If I felt like I was lucky I could handle adding the squat and don’t feel confident I could add another move that needed a lot of focus and attention to detail to master, maybe I would just add in a hamstring curl, which is an exercise that incorporates less muscles and has less margin for error that could lead to injury. In this decision I have a choice between a habit that requires me to learn a whole new skill, or something that doesn’t require as much mental engagement.
This could apply to the daily habit of writing as well. Maybe I committed to writing one essay a week by committing to writing one paragraph 3-4 times a week. I’m not quite ready to think about tackling a whole novel, but maybe I could add one hour a week to outlining a longer story. This isn’t too far of a stretch from what I’ve already been doing and it keeps me from thinking too far ahead, getting overwhelmed, and giving up entirely.
WHEN YOU CAN’T COMMIT TO YOUR HABIT
Maybe you have not been able to commit to the “one thing” as a habit. It’s time to either pivot to try something else that fits into your routine, or to make that one thing smaller and more manageable. To do this well you must figure out why your action step isn’t working.
Sometimes you need to figure out an action step you would enjoy more or aligns more with what you are good at. Figure out what you did and didn’t like in your initial “one thing” and find a step that is more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
If I didn’t like writing essays, maybe I would switch to writing stories. I could do a habit of outlining stories and writing character descriptions instead of writing paragraphs. Think about what makes your soul feel alive and do more of that.
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TIME
Maybe you simply don’t have the time to commit to your new activity. If this is a case of prioritization you may need to take a look at the way you currently spend your time. There will inevitably be something you are doing that is wasting time or is fruitless.
PLAN YOUR REST
In this assessment of your time, many times people do not give themselves adequate time to rest and have fun. This usually results in bad habits like: Netflix binging, endless Instagram scrolling, watching tiktok videos for hours when you intended to go on for only a few minutes.
These are symptoms not of a lack of discipline as most people think, but actually of not giving their soul the adequate rest and joy it LEGITIMATELY needs. You will be far more productive if you plan for your rest and give yourself something to look forward to.
Make a list of the things you enjoy doing. My list might look like: playing guitar, reading, facetiming a friend, lying in my hammock in my yard while listening to podcasts. All of these are good things and often are creative outlets or activities that create space for ideas to come to mind. Block out a good amount of time for these activities at least once a day and see how your time plays out. You will likely see blocks of time open up from this and more productivity when you are working.
ELIMINATE UNIMPORTANT TASKS
Often there are things on our to do list that don’t need to get done all at once. I like to split my to do list into parts: “to do immediately”, “to do within this month”, and “this can wait.” I focus on my immediate list first. If I do all of that list and I have energy and the will to get more done, then great that is what I do, but I am still happy with myself if I only got one thing on my immediate list. Often we place too much importance on things that don’t matter much at all.
BE GENUINELY PROUD OF YOURSELF FOR YOUR PROGRESS
One of the reasons that so many people get addicted to video games is because video game designers know that people like to be rewarded for their efforts. Games are designed to give more points and rewards on the lower levels of the game, then space them out more as they advance. This encourages people on the lower levels to stick with it until they have developed the habit of playing. As they player continues, the rewards that are fewer and farther between feel even more valuable.
Many times I see people be too hard on themselves from the start of developing a new habit. “I could have done one more set of squats.” “Sure I wrote a paragraph, but I never finished a whole conclusive essay.” These tendencies to point out what you could have done better or more of will actually prevent you from getting to the more advanced steps on your journey.
Be proud of yourself every time you show up to make that change.
The thing about all of life is that you will never reach a point of perfection. You might have seasons of more visible success than others, but all of life is a journey. If you keep walking forward in that journey, that is perfection.
Movies and TV shows will lie to you that there is a “happily ever after”- that you get to a point of completion and it just continues like that. But life, real life is always changing and it is our ability to adapt and grow as humans that is the beauty and joy in every season.
So be proud of yourself every time you show up to make that change. Be proud of yourself any time you do something different that shakes up your routine. It is all part of the journey, and that my friend is true perfection.
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