New Years Resolutions Never Work

Jan 05, 2024

I am writing this on January 2, 2024. The start of a new year is typically considered a time for fresh starts, where we reflect on our lives and identify opportunities for growth. We eagerly make plans to achieve personal and professional goals.

However, by the first of February, many of us struggle to maintain the initial momentum. The energy and enthusiasm we had at the beginning start to fade, and old habits creep back in. Before we know it, six months have passed, and we find ourselves in the same place we were on January 1st.

If this sounds familiar, I have an alternative approach for you to consider: playing the long game with a focus on small, short-term gains.

To illustrate how this works, let's take a look at the classic New Year's resolution of losing weight.

The typical thought process often goes like this:

"My goal is to lose 30 pounds over the next 90 days and keep it off for the whole year. Here's my plan:

1. Start working out: I'll wake up every weekday at 5:00 am and go to the gym, ensuring I'm back by 6:30 am to get the kids ready for the day. I'll do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training each day.
2. Breakfast: I'll have a protein shake.
3. Lunch: Instead of going out for fast food, I'll bring a salad for lunch every day.
4. Dinner: I'll cook healthy meals at home, and the rest of the family will have to adjust.
5. No more desserts after dinner.
6. No more late-night snacks.
7. No more alcohol during the week."

Does this sound familiar to you?

Here is what the alternative looks like: playing the long game with a focus on small, short-term wins.

My goal is overall health and wellness. I want to feel as good as possible for the rest of my life, so I am going to transition into a healthy lifestyle. I will introduce one new healthy habit or uplevel one habit every 30 days.

Healthy habit #1: No more late-night snacks... no eating after 7:00 pm. This is the only change for the first 30 days.

After 30 days, introduce Healthy habit #2: Get up at 6:00 am and go for a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood. This is the only change from day 31 to day 60.

On day 61, introduce Healthy habit #3: Have a protein shake for breakfast.

On day 91, uplevel Healthy habit #2: Get up at 5:50 am and add 10 minutes of strength training to the 15-minute walk.

Can you see how with this approach, you are stacking small wins? After 120 days, you have developed 4 new healthy habits. Imagine where you will be two years later if you keep stacking these small, healthy habits.

This same process is a great way to transform your family dynamic. If the goal is to bring peace, joy, purpose, and love back into your home, focus on introducing or improving one new habit every 30 days. Here are a few ideas:

1. Start having 1 family dinner per week.
2. Acknowledge and validate your child/children's feelings instead of dismissing them.
3. Create a pause and take 3 deep breaths every time you feel yourself getting frustrated.
4. Be intentional about how you greet your child/children when they get home from school.
5. Once per week, take a 20-minute walk with your spouse and reconnect.
6. Listen to your teenager and resist the urge to offer unsolicited advice.

Again, focus on one new habit at a time. Once you feel that it has become ingrained, move on to the next one.

Give this a try. You may be surprised by how much momentum you feel when you start stacking these small wins.

Your Family Enrichment Coach,

Jim White

 

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