It’s about a week into the new year! How are those resolutions coming? Or, maybe you’re tired of following the crowd and decided to go without the resolutions this year. According to Forbes, about 40% of Americans make resolutions every year, but only about 8% actually achieve these goals and well-intentions. If you are one of those annual 8%, congratulations for sticking to your plan! The rest of us could learn a thing or 2 from you. But if you’re in the other camp who can’t even remember their resolutions by March, there’s still a way to make a change for the better in 2017! Try this exercise instead.
- Instead of writing down a list of goals, write down 3 things you want to become a habit this year. This will look much like a list of resolutions, but stick with me! Example:
- Drink less sodas
- Get more hours of sleep per night
- Pay more attention to close relationships.
- Next, pick ONE of the things off your list. The others will come into play later, but for now just pick one. Example:
- Pay more attention to close relationships
- After you’ve done that, plan ONE thing you could do each week to make progress in that area. Example:
- Call out-of-town friend or grandparent 1 time per week.
- Write it down, post it on your refrigerator, mirror, or steering wheel, put it as a reminder in your phone, do whatever it takes to remind you of this one weekly change.
- When you feel that your one change has become a habit, move on the next one and do the exact same thing. Example:
- To get more hours of sleep, install an app that shuts down certain social media apps at a time you choose each night. Try Freedom app for iOS. It’s shocking how much sleep time you could gain just from staying off of the phone!
- To drink less sodas, figure out how many you have right now. If you currently have 5 sodas a day, spend 2 weeks having 4 sodas a day. Then 2 weeks having 3 sodas a day, etc.
That’s it! For now, all you’re doing is the ONE thing that will make a difference in ONE area of your life. Maybe it takes 3 months to become a habit, or maybe it only takes 6 weeks. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, the point is that something that had been a stressor or an unhealthy habit for a year or 2 or 10 is eventually weeded out, and the positive habit becomes second nature to you. When we change one thing at a time, our brain is more easily able to adopt it as a habit. Changing too many things at one time leads to overwhelm, and the brain is unable to keep up with the pace. You eventually shut down and toss your well-intentions out the window. Take it slow. Be fully engaged in the process and note what works for you and what doesn’t, then move on to the next goal. Spend some time today doing the exercise above. What’s your ONE?