How are your New Year's resolutions going so far?
I want to challenge you to be less ambitious this year. If this sounds like crazy talk - just hear me out. Have you ever wondered why some people are able to stick to their New Year's resolutions and then crush them, like no problem, and you seem to just be failing anytime you try to make any change at all? If so, this article is for you. This year is gonna be your year you crush your goals. I’m gonna talk you through it!
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We've all been here before.
It happens every year. With our bellies full of turkey and stuffing, maybe a hangover or two under our belt, and the madness of the holiday rush clipping at our heels it’s easy to settle into the F-it mindset. We decide that the holidays are a pretty good excuse to let loose and forget about all the progress that we didn't make on the goals we made this year.
We know next year is right around the corner. Once January rolls around, we can start a brand new list of New Year's resolutions, which leaves me asking – what are New Year's resolutions anyway? It seems like they might be another way to say “empty promises that we make to our selves every year.” Then about two weeks in we are like yeah that’s not gonna happen. I’m sure I'll get to that next year. Or maybe you promised yourself to do the 21-day sugar detox and ate a bite of chocolate so you throw in the towel and now you’re just throwing back Twizzlers like there’s no tomorrow. I mean, they're fat-free.Right?
What if this year was different? What if you changed your mindset around goal setting?
When we're trying to make changes in our life, it usually involves the process of overriding a habits. And these habits are no joke. They are deeply ingrained in our core values. We usually do them every day. We usually don’t even think about that. It’s like being on autopilot. You know how sometimes you get home from work and are like wow I don’t even remember driving home. Your mind is thinking about the day, worrying about work and kids and mortgage payments but somehow by habit you just get home. Imagine your daily habits around nutrition and fitness being like this too. We're on autopilot, just like we are in other areas of our life. We want to work out, but we are in the habit of watching TV instead. So we don’t make time for it. We want to eat better but out habit is to order up some Thai food.
The two things you need to do to make a BIG CHANGE!
Number One: Know Your Why.
Knowing why you want to change is a critical step to being really committed to the change. It’s not just about the surface why. It's about the deep-rooted deep why. We all know that wanting to lose ten pounds is not enough motivation to actually change our habits. If we knew that losing ten pounds would completely change our lives, we might be more motivated. We might be able to hold onto that reason why. I have an exercise that I like to do with my clients called the 5 why’s. It allows you to break into your whys more deeply. If you’d want to try this exercise yourself, you can find it here. Download the worksheet and really break it down.
Only change 1% at a time.
I've found that significant change requires small but consistent actions. I firmly believe that the biggest reason we fail is that we set our goals too high. We take on more than we can handle and then beat ourselves up for not succeeding.
I want you to look at your goal as if it were training for the Tour de France. We can honestly say that we know we are not ready to compete in the largest most competitive athletic race known to man. Right? Safe to assume? In another example. You know that you cannot deadlift 400 pounds. I’m just guessing. A few of you may be there. You aren’t going to feel bad about yourself for not qualifying to race in next years Tour de France, and you probably aren’t going to beat yourself up for not walking into your local 24-hour fitness and slapping 400 pounds on a barbell. We know our limitations.
Our goals are like this too. Change requires building a sustainable habit. This means setting ourselves up for success by first making space for change and then giving ourselves permission to make a tiny change and be okay with it.
For example: say your goal is to work out for one hour five days a week.
Start by honestly looking at where you are right now. Do you not work out at all? If not sister, then you need to check yourself. Moving from zero minutes of working out to one hour five days a week is too big of a jump. It’s not sustainable. It's like trying to hold a weight that is way to heavy. You cannot do it! This is not to say that you will Never be able to do, but you have to work your way up. Set yourself up for success. So yes keep your goal in mind, you can get there but take a 1% better approach.
Self-loathing is so 2018 let’s just leave it there, Okay?
Try this instead. If you want to eventually work out for one hour five days a week, start by looking at where you are right now and ask yourself "What is one change I can make this week that is 1% better?" This might be even just a 10-minute walk. This is how you can start building space. Schedule a 10-minute walk three days a week. If you can successfully walk for 10 minutes three days a week then schedule in 15 minutes. And so on.
When you get to point where the habit become unsustainable, dial it back. Stay at a place that is sustainable until you are ready to commit to another 1%. Then there is the hard part. Celebrate the crap out of that small change. Pat yourself on the back. Do your happy dance.
Remember when you took your first clumsy step. Your parents were so frickin' excited about that one tiny step, even though you fell down right after. Be that! Cheer yourself on for making one tiny step instead of beating yourself up for not moving the mountain that you told yourself you’d move this year.
Can you see how making this small change is less overwhelming?
It’s kind of ridiculous to even think that we are capable of a complete lifestyle overhaul just because the 24 hours have past and we have moved from the end of one year to the beginning of another year. Do you think? When you look at it that way - it seems kinda crazy. If it seems like this way of goal setting isn’t BIG enough then just ask yourself what your current success rate is with the traditional no pain no gain, go big or go home method of goal setting? How is that working for you?
The real goal is to make changes that become part of the new you. Habits that stick with you because you are able to maintain them. A thirty-day crash diet is not a sustainable habit. You might lose some weight, and you might even lose it quickly, but you are going to gain it all back because you haven’t really changed.
Imagine building lasting, sustainable change one tiny step at a time. You got this sister! Get on board with doing it small.