What is it about a New Year that gets us all excited about starting fresh?
For me, it is like pushing a RESTART button to get organized, set new goals (both professionally and personally), and have a plan going forward.
Raise your hand if you met your goals for 2020?
If gaining the Covid-19 and pivoting 180 degrees was your goal then congratulations! What a year!
When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st and we ring in a new year, I know that not all of the trials in 2020 will just disappear. However, I do believe the new year brings a fresh slate to set new intentions.
So, I must ask, what are your goals for 2021? Better yet, what is your PLAN for accomplishing these goals?
Anyone can set a goal for the new year but few put systems in place to carry out their goal.
For example, I am pretty sure every sports team on earth has the goal of winning their “championship” equivalent but few reach this goal. The habits and systems in place will determine if that goal is achieved.
So how can you meet your goals in 2021?
It is easy to get all wrapped up in the feel goods of a new year and motivation is usually pretty high. The reality is when the “feel goods” disappear and you are left to your own discipline to get up off the couch, will you carry on?
Instead of going for the gusto’ right out of the gate, focusing on improving by just 1% each day will compound over time. If you do the math, improving yourself just 1% each day for a whole year would make you 37 times better!
Now the opposite is also true, when you repeat 1% errors day after day, replicating poor decisions, you get toxic results. You get what you repeat unfortunately.
The tricky part is, transformation takes time, months, and even years, so sticking with something when you don’t reap the benefits immediately can be a challenge.
A lot of times we try to change the wrong things. We focus on the outcomes first, losing the weight, publishing a book, running a marathon. This may produce some motivation but when the going gets tough you are more likely to throw in the towel.
The focus should begin with your identity, what are you telling yourself, who do you want to become, your judgments about yourself and others. A simple change in self-talk can go a long way.
For example, if you are trying to stop smoking and someone offers you a cigarette, you can say “no thanks, I don’t smoke”. The simple verbalization of “I don’t smoke” is already changing the brains’ recognition that you identify with a non-smoker. The same is true if you were offered a cookie! What would a healthy person do?
As habits form, they are under the control of your automatic and non-conscious mind. This means you may not even realize you are doing some things. A good way to start is by setting down and going through your day. What are your habits you do throughout the day? Taking note of the “bad habits” or less desirable ones creates awareness for change.
People choose behavior based on ease. Design your environment for success.
What this may look like is, not having junk food in the house even if it is a treat for the kids. Maybe don’t visit the breakroom that always has the treats. Set fruit out on the table so you are more apt to grab one. Have a favorite H2O bottle always available, set your gym clothes out, try a new grocery store if you shop on autopilot. These simple changes can make a huge difference.
Have you ever heard, you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with?
We pick up on the habits of those that are close to us. For me, this is my husband, a 7 and 5-year-old, and probably my employees.
Anyhoo…we as humans are herd animals, we want to fit in and bond with others.
In a study that tracked 12,000 people for 32 years, an individual’s chance of becoming obese increased by 57% if he/she had a friend who became obese. (This goes the other way too).
So surround yourself with people who have similar goals and don’t put yourself into tempting situations.
Life is hard, so make your new habits easy. Some examples, meal prep on Sundays, don’t pick a gym that is off your regular route, layout workout clothes every morning…you get the idea.
You may have heard that it takes a month to form new habits, the truth is, it is not time-dependent but rep dependent. The more you repeat a habit, the better it will “stick”. Neurons that fire together, wire together. Meaning, if you keep repeating something, your brain’s neural pathways will start to change and support this new habit! Our bodies are so cool!
When you fall off the wagon, will you get back up? Perfection isn’t possible…it will happen. The rule is, never miss a workout or repeat a bad habit twice. The 1st mistake won’t ruin you but it is the spiral of repeated mistakes.
Humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard-Not too easy-Just right. (Goldilocks, she was a smart gal!)
When starting a new habit, you want to keep the behavior as easy as possible so you can stick with it, but it needs to be somewhat challenging or you won’t move the needle. Once something gets to be too easy, make it a little harder.
Woo…if you made it this far, you just read a book of information! I want to encourage you to just take ACTION! If we are always planning, thinking about our habits, we will never get better. So this year in 2021, just take ACTION!