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Habits, Not Resolutions

Would you like to have more motivation and energy in your life? Want to set goals and make some changes for the year with effects that will last? You are absolutely capable of doing this, even if you’ve found that previous resolutions haven’t worked for you. The way you can make more positive and successful changes is with habits, not New Year’s resolutions. Habits are far more important than New Year’s resolutions and here’s why.

January 1st is a great date to stop, reflect, reset, and refocus. Each year, we plan for our New Year’s resolutions to help us improve, get fitter, and become better people. Sounds awesome, right? But by week two or three of January, most of us have returned back to our previous behaviour. One of the main reasons this happens is because we rely on willpower, self-loathing, and other unsustainable methods to create meaningful change.

Make habits positive

One way to reframe habits positively is changing the way you talk and think about change, and what you want to do to achieve your goals. Try using the phrase “I get to…” rather than “I should…” or “I have to…”. Instead of saying or thinking “I HAVE to stretch for 15 minutes every day”, try “I GET to stretch for 15 minutes every day”!

Another way to make habits more positive is to not make them so dependent on unsustainable willpower, and instead make them automatic. Tie a habit to something you already do! For example, when you wake up, you could try doing two minutes of stretching in bed before getting up. Good ones to do are bent leg rolls from side to side, lower back releases, and child’s pose, but have a quick search for others that suit you and your needs. It could even be something as simple as stretching your body from fingertips to toes. Whatever it is, make it something that can be reasonably done everyday, and associate it with something you already do so it becomes second nature in no time!

Find a cheerleader

Creating habits and changes always goes better when you have a supportive friend beside you. If you want to get fitter or get outside more, make a time and place that you’ll meet somebody and do it together! Not only does this help you stay accountable in sticking with the goal, but it makes it more fun. If you and your friends have very different goals, you could just tell each other about your goals so you can check in with each other and ask each other how you’re going.

Make sure that the support comes in an encouraging and positive way. Congratulate everyone on their successes and help support them in their losses, but don’t tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do, or scrutinise them for not achieving their goal. Find the people in your life who can cheer you on, support you, and encourage you to live your best life.

This doesn’t have to be the case! If you want to create meaningful and lasting change in your life, you need to add another step to New Year’s resolutions. This will help you create habits that will see you achieving your goals, and create sustainable, lasting change that won’t have you going back to the default behaviours. Here are four easy steps on how to create habits to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions and, in a broader sense, your life goals.

Focus on the little things

In an era when we can get everything we want extremely quickly on demand, we feel that we should be able to set a goal and achieve it equally as fast. Often we try to impose unrealistic, lofty, or extreme lifestyle changes upon ourselves, that fail shortly afterwards due to them requiring an unachievable amount of willpower. Think of it like a computer that has too many tabs open. The crazy number of tabs makes it hard to focus on completing a single job and closing a single tab, and the computer begins to run slower as a whole too! Instead, you need to prioritise your goals, or break them down into small groups or compartments, and then work on them one at a time.

As James Clear wrote in Atomic Habit, a 1% change every day will make a 365% change by the end of the year, but starting off with 100% change today will likely leave you back at 0% (or negative!) by the end of the year as your willpower diminishes. For example, if you want to run 5km, start by running 200m in your 5km walk, then increase to two 200m runs in your 5km walk, and so on. This way, you can build up your habit and see your progression towards your goal, rather than going all in and giving up when you don’t see immediate success.

Keep perspective

As the classic saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same applies to creating new habits; they require small changes, support, self-worth, and believing in yourself for an extended period of time, not just a few days or weeks. And the consistency of these changes are more important than how perfect you can be in making these changes.

If you didn’t actively work towards your goals or habits today, don’t stress and especially don’t think you’ve ruined it and give up! Just get back to your goals tomorrow – consistency is key. Keep learning, keep trying, and keep making that 1% change today, and if you miss out on a percent for one day, stick with it! After all, 5 or 6% is better than none. Be kind to yourself, love hard, and keep going.

Creating a New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be bad, unmotivating, or fuelled by self-loathing or willpower. If you really want to change and to give these resolutions a fighting chance, you need to create habits that are small enough for you to achieve and will contribute to your long-term goals, self-esteem, and self-worth. Don’t forget to find a cheerleader for mutual support, and remember that consistency is better than perfection.

If one of your positive goals is to get into adventure more, or try some new adventures, then don’t forget to take a look at our calendar to find your first or next great adventure! Make this the year that you choose to make good decisions for yourself, and having some quality time in nature with new friends is the best way to do that.


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