New Year. New Me. Sounds familiar?
The beginning of a new year always feels like a fresh start, a clean slate where we can create new goals that will improve our lives. Motivation is in the air and we want to become our best selves. Our intentions are definitely in the right place.
Unfortunately, though we start the year with the best intentions, we rarely achieve what we set out to accomplish.
Research shows 80% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions by February. This is very disheartening, yet at the same time, it teaches us something valuable. Motivation and intention are not the only things we need to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.
James Clear, the best-selling author of Atomic Habits, tells us “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”. We are quick to create new goals for ourselves, the thing is new goals don’t mean a new outcome. If we don’t have a plan in place, meaning a system, to make this goal a reality we often fall short.
Systems are the daily collection of small habits that we have in place that will allow us to get to our outcome.
Note the word small in the previous sentence. One of the biggest mistakes we make at the time we set our resolutions is that we go big. This is because society has taught us to go big or go home.
When talking about nutrition we want to skip meals or switch all of our lunches for salads. Regarding exercise, we think I’ll run a marathon when you still can’t run a 5k. These are all big and exciting changes, but are they sustainable? Can we keep up this change for the long run?
A small habit would be switching an afternoon snack from a bag of chips to a banana. This seems tiny. A small bag of chips has 250 calories, and a banana is 105. Over the course of a week, that is a 675 caloric difference. That’s a whole meal’s worth of food less. Not to mention you would be consuming 73 fewer grams of fat. Bottom line: bite-size changes can create super-sized results.
Another important thing to keep in mind when we map and plan our systems is to include the element of reward.
Have you ever heard the phrase Celebrate the small wins?
Our brain is programmed to repeat behavior that feels good. If the new year’s resolution involves waking up at 5 am every morning to go for a run and you think to yourself, “Ugh, I have to go for a run”. This sounds more like punishment, you are less likely to repeat it again.
On the other hand, if your resolution is I’ll go for a 15-minute walk after my lunch break. In comparison, this feels much more doable. It is less effort, as well as less time. Perhaps, it’s even something you look forward to. You think to yourself, “I get to go on my walk”. That switch of language is picked up by the brain and associated with a reward.
Yes, the 15-minute walk is fewer steps or calories burned than a morning run, but if you can keep it up. Consistency is much more important than intensity.
Finally, finding a tribe that supports and encourages your desired behavior can be a key element in achieving what you propose for the upcoming year.
At Destiny, we want to give you that support.
Psychologist and Emotional Intelligence Coach
Our Destiny Mapping 2023 is a complimentary service which is about creating a series of New Year’s resolutions into bite-size. Our coach will help to hold you consistent and accountable for what you want to acheive. Click HERE for details.