Before you make a resolution

12.30.15 |

At this point, New Year’s resolutions have become something of a joke. We know that most people don’t live up to the goals they set for themselves at the end of the year, and that fact almost makes us feel better about failing to keep our own resolutions. I wrote about the research on New Year’s resolutions and why they don’t work last year, but I don’t want to dwell on failure.

Instead, let’s focus on what you can do to succeed!
For starters, here are four tips that we’ve talked about before:

  1.  Connect with a health mentor to give you support and guidance when you need it most.
  2. Look beyond weight-loss and address the other areas of health as well.
  3. Follow a reasonable plan that you can maintain for the long term.
  4. Failure does not mean that you failed; dust yourself off and get back to work!

These principles will always apply, but if you enter the New Year with only one Habits of Health concept, make it this one: little behavior changes lead to big results.

This week, I challenged the Optimal Health community to read two additional pages of a book a night, whether you are already an avid reader or just beginning. Before that, I challenged the community to drink an extra glass of water, and the week before that I challenged the community to do a few extra push-ups a day.

So if you’ve been following along, your daily Habits of Health will now look something like this: 10 push-ups, an extra glass of water, and some light reading. These habits are still small enough to be easily manageable, but you can see how they quickly populate your day with positive choices. In fact, these three small habits combine to support Habits of a Healthy Body, Habits of Healthy Eating, and Habits of a Healthy Mind.
As you enter 2016 and set your health goals, make a plan comprised of these important but manageable habits to make your even bigger habits easier to maintain. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Goal: Eat healthier. Starting habit: Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Goal: Exercise more. Starting habit: Do one push-up a day.
  • Goal: Sleep better. Starting habit: Turn off your phone an hour before bed.
  • Goal: Reduce stress. Starting habit: Meditate for five minutes a day.

As long as your habit of choice moves you forward—even if that progress is a small step at a time—you are on track to meet your goals. The key here is that these habits are sustainable. New Year’s resolutions fail because they are often too extreme and lack any practical change plan. Your little Habits of Health are more likely to stick with you and thus more likely to transform your health.

Here’s to your healthier and happier New Year!