I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t have some sort of health goal lined up on their New Year resolution list.
Lose weight. Be more active. Get more downtime. Meditate. Read more, technology less. Complete some sort of physical challenge.
We get all excited. We start dreaming about how we’ll feel when we hit our goals. We buy new clothes/books/healthy cookbooks/support systems. We start talking about how great things will be in six months.
And then the new year hits. And within a month, we’ve lost our energy. In fact, the statistics about how long new year’s resolutions last, or how many people are actually successful in keeping their resolutions is staggering!
So I have a new approach for you to consider.
Right now! Or at least within the next week. Challenge the idea that a New Year’s Resolution has to actually start on January 1st of the new year. After all, if we are facing the reality that many of us will only last until the end of January, why not get a head start?
Where to start? At the beginning…
Set Your Goal
What are you thinking is your area of health focus for your new year? Because there are so many options!
Physical Health? Maybe you want to:
- Lose Weight / Eat Healthier
- Get stronger / Exercise more
- Achieve an athletic goal (marathon, triathlon, century bike ride, multiple day hike, etc.)
- Lower your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)
Mental Health? Maybe you want to:
- Find more quiet time
- Reduce constant worry/anxiety
- Draw better boundaries between professional and personal time
- Reduce stress
Combination/Overall Health? Maybe you want to:
- Sleep more / sleep better
- Reduce technology time / increase human connection time
- Take a fun family vacation with no work!
- Personal development / Hobby
Notice that your goal can cover any bit of the entire health spectrum, or even be a combination of two or three of the categories. PLEASE, don’t bite off more than you can chew! But certainly if there is a nice tie-in of two or more goals, habit stack them!
For example, if you are hoping to add in a bit more sleep to your life, and are also looking to eat healthier, try replacing that afternoon caffeine/nightcap/dessert with a nice cup of peppermint or chamomile tea. Less calories, less caffeine, less alcohol (helps to lose weight); herbal teas promote relaxation and help prepare your body for sleep.
OR – maybe you have a goal to read more and reduce your social media time, while also enjoying more time with the family on a relaxing vacation. OK! Well…book a vacation where you pack 3 new books and set the goal to finish all of those books while laying on the beach.
Write Your Goal Down
Start your New Year today by deciding what area of your health you will focus on – and what you want to do about it. Need some help? I have a few easy steps that will help you out.
Now write your goal down. On a piece of paper with a writing utensil. You can transfer your thoughts to your technology of choice afterward, but writing things down ‘old school’ style has benefits that will help you hit that goal in the long run.
New Year Resolutions are set up by most of us to be life changing events. And life changing events are BIG.
So it stands to follow that we get ourselves so geared up to make these big changes, that when we actually get into details of what needs to be done, we get overwhelmed.
And when that happens, we decide that our life would just be easier if we stay the course. Do what we know. Change is just too hard. We let our goals go.
Start With a Micro-Step
Because micro-steps work. Because micro-steps are easy. And I’m all about easy things that work.
Micro-steps are tiny, really really small action steps that you take in the direction of your goals. But here’s the key – they are so small, there is no way you can’t fit them into your current life’s agenda.
So small, so easy – you just can’t fail.
The term micro-step is from the work I do with Thrive Global, and I think they are brilliant. I have seen many people’s lives transformed by the simple idea of finding one small action they can take, every day, for at least 32 days, to reach their health goals.
Micro-Step Every Day to Create Habit
There is debate out there about how long it takes to create a habit. I have read that creating habit can take somewhere between 18 days and 254 days!
My guidance has always been somewhere between 30 days and 6 months – really it depends on how often you are practicing your new action.
In our activity here, if you are practicing your new action (your micro-step) every single day, you have a good shot of creating a habit within a month.
So instead of waiting until January 1st rolls around, why not start taking a small step toward your New Year’s goal today? Get ahead of what you know will be a busy January!
And bonus – you’ve created a foundational habit that will support your journey toward hitting your bigger goal. This is really important – because you have proven to yourself that you can actually make change!
Once you know you can be successful in setting a goal, taking a small step toward that goal every day, and solidifying a good habit – well, you’ll feel pretty darn good about yourself. And your ability to keep going.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” ~ Old Chinese Proverb
Ditch the Drama
New Year’s Resolutions have gotten such a reputation for being SUCH. A. BIG. DEAL. And it is just that reputation and expectation that keeps us from achieving them.
We get scared. We get anxious. We get stressed. We get down on ourselves if we don’t hit them.
We gear ourselves up to a heightened level of intention that simply doesn’t yet match our desire to actually hit the goal. Yes, intention and desire are not the same thing to our brains (or body).
Sure, you are working toward something that maybe you’ve never done before.
Sure, you may have a goal that you’ve tried before and failed.
Sure, telling other people so they will support you (or chastise you) is recommended by some people.
But I’m telling you to lay low for now. There will be time for excitement, fear, support, celebration, posting on social media – you’ll get your day in the spotlight. That time is not right now.
We are preparing ourselves. We’re laying groundwork. We’re prepping our emotional table. We’re proving to ourselves that we can make changes that will stick.
So let’s just take a subtle, no big deal approach to our first steps. Let’s just do them as if they are normal. Let’s train our brains to believe that change can be laid back and fun – not a big deal.
This idea of subtlety is especially relevant during the holidays. The holiday season brings with it truck loads of baggage that will inevitably lead to drama. Family get togethers, eating too much, ‘rest and relaxation’ vs. movement and activity … and on top of this we want to add making some big announcement about our goals for the new year?
What if your goal is centered around eating better to lose weight? All of a sudden, family holiday dinners take on a whole new chapter of stress. Right? You are now overly conscious of what you are eating and how your actions will impact that weight loss goal you are setting yourself up for.
Nope – we don’t need to add any additional stress to our holiday season lives. There will be enough of it available to us without having to try.
But, if you are in ‘ditch the drama’ mode, and have made the commitment to take one small step toward your goal now, then making your way through the holidays shouldn’t be any big deal.
Let’s take an example. Goal: Eat healthier, lose 10 lbs. Small step – drink one additional glass of water every day. Ditch the Drama – well, all you are doing is drinking one additional glass of water every day. Boring. No biggie. No one needs to know this!
This step is so small you can’t fail. This step is so small no one will care (and we don’t need anyone else’s opinion as to what they think of this action in relation to your goal).
And increasing your hydration now will lead to multiple benefits toward your goal – including (but not limited to): Better hydration, more energy, cleaning out of your system, more movement (you’ll have to visit the bathroom more which will require getting up from your desk and walking) and the desire to put more healthy things into your body.
So save the drama. Save the big announcements. Save the center of attention. Save the selfies.
Just pretend it’s just another day in the life of you. And yeah, you drink water.
Achieving our health goals requires attention, time and commitment. Starting immediately, taking micro-steps and making health your ‘normal’ will put you on the path to success – in the short term and for the long haul.
I’d love to help support you on these actions – comment below what your micro-step you have chosen. We’ll work as a community to hold each other accountable to make positive change.