As New Year’s approaches many people are gearing up for their New Year’s Resolutions. Many are hoping that 2021 can be the year of change. The year that takes all the other years and makes them all look like they were worth waiting for.
Yet, there will be many who awaken on a March day in 2021 and find themselves living the same life they were in December 2020. New Year’s resolutions have a way of doing that to us. Setting us up with fantastic goals, only to have the reality of the situation set in a few months later.
But what if, instead of trying to change our lives like we were ripping off a band-aid. We instead told ourselves that we would try to change our lives like someone building a house? That instead of looking to make a sudden and quick change, we would instead opt for the daily actions that would then produce the results of the change over the course of the 2021 year.
In other words, what if we could change ourselves through small daily actions, rather that giant New Year sized ones? I think, from my own experience, that there are a couple of things that we, as people can do differently that can greatly increase our chances of starting a new habit.
Before we can really get started we have to have the vision of our new habit. Like building a new house, you first need to start working on the blueprint. You don’t’ need to have every measurement figured out but you do need to start filling in the gaps of the habit you’re wanting to create.
The flaw most people make in this step is that they over simplifying the requirements and impact of the habit they are trying to start. What I mean is, people tend to forget how their new habit might impact other people or how their environment and daily life are already impacting it.
Consider someone who wants to quit smoking but still wants to go hang out with a group of friends who are all smokers. In this case the environment is already trying to encourage you to make a choice to smoke. Someone without this same environment will stand a much better chance of actually quitting.
When we’re laying out the blueprint of our change, we need to try and consider all of the other people involved. What will people say? What will people ask you? Is there anything in our environment that is already presenting a challenge to this habit? The more challenges and obstacles you identify in your blueprint, the better and more resilient your house is going to be.
We don’t have to have a completely finalized game plan either. Some people like to wait until every details is analyzed and provided but that’s not nearly as effective as making an initial blueprint and then getting started. We just want to try and find as many “got ya’s” as we can.
Now that you have a blueprint it’s time to put things into action. The next flaw that most people make is that they exhaust 100% of their motivation and will power in week one.
They sign up for a gym membership, buy new gym clothes, and plan out an entire week of meals and exercises. Maybe they sign up to a new program or meal prep all of their meals on Sunday. They try to do as many things as they can to ensure they are successful the next day when the alarm goes off…
But this is a broken strategy. This strategy suggests that you’re always going to be feeling as motivated as you do when you first started. It does jack shit for accounting for what the world is really going to be like. If it takes the coming of a whole New Year just to get you to do all of this shit in the first place, is it really then feasible that you’re going to keep doing all of this again 3 months from now?
The reality is that the world is going to give you flat tires and rainy days and the New Year’s sunshine attitude isn’t going to get you more than another subscription cost to your monthly budget in the end.
What we should be doing here is trying to build our house over the next year by laying one brick every day. Every day we should aim to lay at least one brick that moves us toward our habit. If our new habit is to lose weight, then we can lay a brick of eating a salad for lunch once a week. We start there. Once a week, very easy to accomplish, and we lay that brick.
Then after week 2 or 3, we decide to go for walks on Saturday’s also. Remember we have our blueprint for what we really want, but we’re just laying one brick at a time as we build out the design.
The reason we do this is because we want to spread out our motivation and we want to have the ability to adjust our strategy if we find that salads on Wednesday’s don’t work, because there’s a company lunch, but salads on Tuesday and Thursday do work.
Finally, at the end of the day, no matter how well you plan or how motivated you are. No matter how many little bricks you try to lay, if the foundation of your house is no good, in the end, it will fall.
The foundation of your house is the ‘Why‘ to what you’re trying to change about yourself. Why are you trying to lose weight? Why are you wanting to quit smoking? Why are you trying to be a better father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter? Why are you trying to start this new adventure?
If the answer to your ‘Why‘ question is because you want it for you. You will eventually fail. The best reason I can explain for this is because life has a way of challenging us in a way that simple self gains aren’t enough of a force to push us past those really tough moments. Think of the person who works hard to provide for their family versus the person who just wants to make a quick buck. Whose got the greater motivator?
So take all three pieces of advice, layout a blueprint for where you want to go in the next year, start laying a small brick every day, and find a reason for doing it that’s greater than doing it for yourself. If you can combine all three, you’re much more likely to actually achieve that New Year’s Resolution.
Best of luck to everyone out there that’s getting ready to start their resolutions!