2019: The Year For Change
Sometimes it feels like you can just blink and another year is over. Well that is certainly how I felt when I woke up on New Years Day and thought, f*** does this mean i’m getting old? It’s a weird thing getting older. I used to think that 30 year olds were past it and now on the downwards cycle towards the end of their lives. Morbid I know. However, as I progress into my late twenties I realise how stupid that is and to be honest I’m a damn sight happier now than I ever was at 20.
Today I wanted to talk a little about resolutions, especially as we are nearing the end of January and many of the goals we set may or may not be petering off a little. Resolutions are always a funny thing, because we believe that a new year presents this wonderful opportunity to change, or create some sort of alteration to our lives. It acts as a wonderful call to action to us all, and a huge resounding response always seems to occur. If, like me, you usually set unrealistic goals and begin to drop off towards the end of January this may be the advice that you too have been waiting for.
This year instead of resolutions I wrote down 50 tangible goals that were incredibly specific, and shared them with the rest of the world to hold myself accountable. Obviously you do not need to share yours with the rest of the world, but hey it helps to share it with someone. Instead of trying to change over night I began the process months before, slowly chipping away at certain goals I had in mind. Mentally and physically preparing myself for an opportunity to up the tempo on my journey to change, was the key to my initial success in 2019. Can you think of a time when you decided you were going to incorporate several new habits into your life overnight and it actually worked? I can’t! And this why I think it’s so important to start the process early with the idea to create real, long lasting change.
The goals I’ve been working on this month are very specific. I decided to take on 3 with the thought that, if successful, they would encourage me to continue and begin to incorporate more of the habits I set out to change. I’m currently working on reading a book a week for the year, a 30 day yoga challenge and accessory work to help heal my knee injury. I chose these 3 goals because they all build upon each other and perpetuate good habits. The yoga challenge is a tangible thing I can actively tick off everyday and get instant gratification, the flexibility I gain from this yoga challenge feeds into the process of healing my knee and encourages me to continue my accessory work, and reading a book a week gets me into the habit of setting aside time each day to dedicate to something that will feed my brain. And it’s working.
Even if I miss a day of yoga, getting back to it is easier than it would have been if I weren’t doing a challenge. I’m also setting myself up for success by accepting that any amount of yoga counts, be it 10 minutes or an hour long practice. Just getting to the mat is what matters.
So you’re nearing the end of January and you need a little more inspiration to keep chugging along into arguably the most miserable month of the year. This is the advice I have accumulated over the past few months, and have have successfully implemented into my strategy to achieve my goals.
Firstly, rewrite your goals if they’re not specific enough. It is incredibly hard to tangibly see that you’re making progress if your goals are too vague. If your goal is, “I would like to reduce my waste in 2019,” that is incredibly hard to measure. However, if your goal is, “I want to avoid any single use coffee cups in 2019,” because it is a very specific goal it is much easier to measure and therefore provides the tangible gratification you need to keep you motivated. Of course it also provides a way of measuring your progress too.
Mix it up. If you’ve been reading a book a week like me for example and you’re getting a little tired of it, or not finding the time, try changing the kinds of books you’re reading. If i’m reading a book that is a little heavy or hard to get through, I make sure the next one is much lighter and a fabulous story that I can get engrossed in. This leaves me feeling positive with the sense that I love reading, which to be honest I do.
Reduce the friction and hassle that is preventing you from taking the steps to achieve your goals. Try heading straight to the gym after work rather than going home first and creating that extra effort to have to leave your house again. Try making your healthy lunch the night before so in the morning you don’t even have to think about it, or keep some extra healthy snacks at work. Find ways to make your life that little bit easier and reduce the friction that is stopping you from achieving your goals.
“If you want to encourage a behaviour, you should think about making it: Easy. Attract. Social. Timely,” The Nudge Unit. Try applying the EAST framework to the behaviours you’re trying to encourage, this provides a great mental checklist for you when you are trying to figure about what goals you want to achieve and how and when to implement them. Make them small and easy changes, make the end goal something very attractive, find a partner or an online community to keep you motivated, time it well (New Years is a great time because so many people are changing their habits and so you feel like you have a huge crowd behind you).
Make sure you are replacing a bad habit with a better one. Simply trying to erase a bad habit is almost impossible, simply because of the way our minds work. So for example, if you want spend less time scrolling through social media why not replace that time spent with reading. I have dramatically reduced my scrolling time thanks to my reading challenge, I simply don’t have time to get all my pages in whilst also scrolling endlessly through the mass of social media posts waiting for me.
In the spirit of not overloading you, I’m going to leave you with those five tips as I feel like they are the most comprehensive way of successfully creating change. I would also recommend reading The Nudge Unit by David Halpern, but I will chat more about the book at the end of this week in my January book round up.