How is 2016 treating you so far? Are those resolutions you vowed to keep still on or have you, like so many of us, dropped the ball a little? I'm not here to remind you about those little failures or to point out your mistakes, but rather to share with you that you are not alone. So many of us create an encouraging list of goals and ideas we plan to keep forever and yet when times get tough, and life happens, we somehow let things slip and after a few days of slipping, we find it so much harder to get back on track...anyone with me here?
Today, January 21st would mark 21 days of clean eating, or not drinking or maybe exercising for you and according to research studies, this should be the moment these habits become easier and require less effort. Have you kept any of these resolutions? If so, are you feeling stronger and is this new habit becoming easier to you?
If not, I'm here to remind you that it's okay. We're all human and starting new challenges and habits is not meant to be easy. In fact, they are really really hard to keep! When you've grown up with soda all your life and are so accustomed to drinking a can at dinner or at the office, it seems impossible to go through your day without thinking about that soda, right?
Here are some tips I've learned through times like this when I've tried to change a bad habit or added a new goal. I hope at this stage of your challenge, you can find some of these useful and helpful to accomplish your resolutions for this new year!
1. Find your WHY! This is the biggest one and that's why I listed it first. When you find a compelling reason that's exciting and meaningful, it makes the small daily habits much easier to take on. For instance, when you decide to quit smoking because you want to live to see your grandchildren graduate highschool, it becomes a lot easier to avoid that pack of cigarettes. Find your WHY and make it compelling, then write it out on a piece of paper and hang it in a place that you'll see every day. This will be a daily reminder of WHY you are doing this in the first place and it will help in times of weakness.
2. Substitutions. One of the biggest culprits in breaking habits is the void left from removing the bad habit and not replacing it with a good one. We've seen this many times with people who start eating paleo and wonder why they're always hungry around week two. It turns out after removing 50% of their calories from gluten, dairy and sugar they haven't been eating enough food. Instead, they should substitute those for more veggies and protein to fill their plates. Not only does it make it really hard to follow this diet if you're always hungry, but mentally you'll feel that void because you haven't replaced the bad items, instead of just eliminating them.
3. Less is More. We tend to get a little ambitious when we list all of the things we plan to accomplish in the new year, but have you reviewed your list from last year? Very few people actually analyze their end goals and see exactly what they have accomplished in that year. In fact, most of us tend to forget what we actually set out to do! Keeping a short list of reachable goals is huge. You're more likely to succeed at a very small number of goals than a ton because you can focus so much more of your attention and efforts towards them. For instance, it's way better to have one habit of quitting smoking, than it is to run 5 times a week, start a new blog posting every day, learn a new language and quit sugar all for just a few weeks before slipping and falling out of these habits altogether. 1-3 goals is ideal. Write them out, along with the WHY and keep copies to remind you everywhere you can, the office, your bathroom, the fridge. Conversely, making sure your goals are attainable will empower you and strengthen you as you get closer. It's easier to set a goal to lose 10 lbs than it is 100 lbs. Small reachable goals will help you gain momentum making it easier as time goes by.
4. Buddy System. Remember going on a field trip and having a buddy that you were accountable for keeping with you at all times? Maybe that was just me since I was a terrible kid, but either way, the buddy system works. It's great if you're both moving towards the same goals, like working out a few times a week or limiting your alcoholic beverages. A buddy will keep you accountable and will remind you to stay on track. Not only that, it's more fun when you can make progress and get stronger together. But, make sure it's someone who won't take any nonsense from you. This buddy has to be serious about making sure you're on the right path towards those goals. Be clear with them that they can't let you slip and this will help you in those weak moments.
5. Rewards. This is my favorite part! I have an expensive obsession with an athletic clothing brand, okay-it's lululemon. I mentally rationalize my pricey purchases with it's all I wear every day and It's workout clothes, so it'll make me feel better about working out which are all acceptable in my book, but I can't afford to shop there as much as I'd like to. So I created a mental step process so that once I've reached a certain step in my goals, like avoiding gluten altogether for one month, I can reward myself with a small purchase at this store. And let's say once I've gone 3 months in this direction, I can allow myself to purchase another item, maybe a little bigger this time. So not only, is the goal itself a motivation for me, but now I have some fun little prizes along the way that make it that much more enticing-and believe me, I'll work extra hard for those rewards!
Now that I've shared with you my top five tips for keeping your habits, I'd love for you to take a look at those resolutions and review them. Did you have a big list? Were they too vague, like 'lose weight'? Have you followed through with them? I encourage you to look at them and make changes to help you get stronger and accomplish them more easily. I would also LOVE to hear from you and see if maybe you have some tips that have helped you attain your goals!
With that said, I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes and a discount code for 15% off valid this weekend (1/21 through 1/24) discount code: 'newyearnewyou'