How Micro-Habits Make Change and Resolutions Permanent
The New Year is full of people making commitments to themselves to better their lives. Resolution after resolution, we see and hear those around using making these promises - and many failing to keep them, ourselves included.
Dry January and even Veganuary, seem to be the ones I hear lots about as we start 2021. Changes can help us to live a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. Often, we stay away from and avoid making some changes that will help us even more than the popular ways to make a change in our lives.
One reason for this is that we try to make too many changes, all at the same time. The decision we make to create a resolution in a new year, sees us try and make changes that we can't sustain. Making a few small changes, then increasing the intensity of these new habits, has proven to be the best way for me to make changes in my life.
Making a change in this way has seen me create an effective and lasting difference to the way I think, live and work. If you are ready to get started making this year the healthiest and happiest yet, you should start with these five simple micro-habits that have served me well over the past few years:
As an overweight guy, seemingly always struggling with my weight, moving is essential for me. Moving our bodies around is good for lots of reasons. Shredding the pounds and getting fit is one great outcome from increasing our exercise, but it can also release those feel-good hormones (Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Endorphins). They keep us happy and energised. Take a look at your schedule and see how you can get 30 minutes of movement, even just a walk, into your day to start with. After a few days, you'll begin to wonder how you managed without the stress relief and energy that it can bring, and even start to think about stepping up into a walk-run, or even right into a run.
2. Get a Hobby or Two
When is the last time you did something during the week that you enjoyed? When the weekend comes, we spend it doing chores around the house or taking care of things that didn't get done during the week. It's time to change this. Instead of watching mindless Netflix series back to back in the evenings of your week, scrolling through the infinite feed of social media, why not spend time doing something you love. Put together a puzzle, grab the quilting, pull out those watercolours. For me, it was getting back into miniature WWII model making - it's such a release from a screen, and it brings out the creative in me. Whatever passion you think you are too busy to enjoy anymore, maybe something from childhood like me, make time for it and watch how much joy it adds to your life.
3. Start a Journal
We should celebrate and congratulate ourselves more often for the right choices we make. One way to begin knowing what these right choices were, would be to start journalling and then making time to read back over previous entries from time to time. Journaling has proven to help me work out challenges, reduce stress and keep a track on my progress in life. It's easy to miss the small wins and successes we achieve when walking the path of life. Something else comes in when we have overcome one thing, and our focus is on the new challenge in front of us. Looking back through a journal is a great way to see how far we've come and helps us to set new goals about where we want to go next.
4. Set Boundaries
What is the one thing you consistently do that depletes your time and energy? Maybe it's a weekly get together or meeting with friends and colleagues that zaps all your time? Or even a way that you have opened your schedule for others to book in times when it suits them, not you. Now's the time to choose yourself. Plan a way to get out of these time sucking and energy-draining activities. And when new opportunities come up, take some time to decide if they will genuinely enhance your life or end up stealing more your time. Say no more often.
5. Plan Your Tasks
Do you ever get to your desk in the morning and wonder where even to start? All too often, this is how Monday mornings felt for me. We live and work in survival mode most of the time and never get around to the tasks that really matter. We react, rather than be the ones seen as proactive. Planning your most important tasks is one way to start combatting a sense of overwhelm when you have a massive task list. Before you finish work for the day, try and list 3-5 items that you must complete tomorrow. Write them on a post-it note or in a planner for the day ahead. When you arrive in the morning, you'll know exactly where to start and what the priorities of the day are. Other tasks can then be addressed once you have smashed out the list you made the day before. You'll avoid wasting time in the mornings and become so much more productive.
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