As 2017 rapidly approaches (like, so rapidly. Alarmingly fast.) I find myself thinking of things I would like to improve in the New Year. I know I’m not alone in this because every January my Facebook feed is full of good-intentioned resolutions, and every December it’s full of defeated jokes about not achieving their dreams.
“New Years Day is every man’s birthday.” – Charles Lamb
Dude, I get it. I planned to lose 17 pounds before 2017. I lost five – which is better than gaining five, buuuut not quite 17. So I’m resolving to do better this year and to creating lasting habits and lifestyle changes using the following five tips.
Focus on one habit
OK, so you want to eat healthier, read a book a month and exercise more. Me too! But you can’t go from sitting on the couch, watching Netflix and eating Arby’s to running on the treadmill, reading a chapter a day and eating a salad all at once. Too much change in a short time just isn’t sustainable. (For reference, see every past broken resolution ever.) So focus on one habit to get started. After all, if these are your new year’s resolutions, you have 12 whole months to get it done.
Break down the steps
To create a habit such as reading a book a month, break it down into smaller daily goals. What does reading a book a month entail? Pick your book, divide the page count by the number of days in the month and BAM! That’s your daily goal! It’s easy to read 10 pages a day, right? You definitely read that much on the internet every day. And suddenly a 300-page book in a month is no big deal.
Commit for 30 days
So you’ve broken down the steps to create your lasting habit of reading a book a month. Now, commit to it. Commit to 30 days of baby steps. Before you know it, you’ll have a month (and a book!) under your belt.
Don’t break the chain
This tip comes from Jerry Seinfeld. Have you heard it before? He explained that each January he hangs a calendar on his wall, and each day he writes new material, he marks the calendar with a big red X. The idea here is to not break the chain of red Xs. So each day you read 10 pages, mark an X in your planner or wherever. The chain will eventually be so long, you’d feel bad breaking it. So don’t!
Now, if you’re reading a book a month, the reward is buying and starting the next book, right? But what if your new habit is to eat healthily? After a month of not breaking the chain, buy yourself a Vitamix or a pressure cooker. The point is to reward milestones and achievements, just like you would while teaching a child a new habit. Because that’s all we are, really – big kids.
What habits are you looking to create over the next 12 months? What steps can those habits be broken down to? Let me know in the comments – and keep me posted on your progress as the year progresses!