The start of a new year prompts reflection and encourages fresh starts. Promises we’ve only thought about making we’re now inspired to fulfill. So, we say to ourselves, “I’m going to work out three times a week,” or “I’m really going to quit smoking (or overeating or overspending).” And so, we start afresh, motivated and hopeful that the changes we make will stick … and then something flips. Our old patterns fight back. We resist, but comfort and ease win us over … there’s always next year. Encouraging, right?
I can say that my own success at changing more than one bad habit at a time has been an overall epic failure. That being said, I’d like to share with you a little something I’ve started doing over the past year that’s improved my luck. I began giving myself a monthly challenge. Would I have been able to keep from eating fried food for a whole year? Heavens, no! But could I try to steer clear of those deliciously golden french fries for a mere 30 days? Sure … and I did, which only made me feel more motivated to see how long I could keep the streak alive. Now, it wasn’t for a full 365 days, but that wasn’t my goal to begin with.
In actuality, I wanted to see how my body would feel when I made different food choices. I wanted to mindfully choose the side salad over the fries. And because it felt so good to make the healthier choice and have self-control time and time again, I was motivated to keep on keepin’ on.
Turning micro into macro changes
I suppose you could call these “micro changes.” These micro changes have led to macro (big!) changes. No beer for a month? Check. Less beer overall for a year? Double check. Meditate daily for 30 days for at least five minutes? Mostly (and sometimes even for 10 minutes). Only one sweet a day for a month? Done. The lowest number of divine desserts consumed over a year — done and done. In the year 2014, I felt more successful and hopeful than discouraged and frustrated. I can make changes. These changes required making the choice to change every single day. If a month seems too overwhelming, I encourage you to start with a week or even one day at a time.
Thinking about any sort of change can be scary. That being said, I encourage you to break it down into small, very here and now steps, rally some support and keep an attitude of loving-kindness toward yourself. Watch out for old patterns to come knocking. And be prepared for possible barriers, so you can plan how to overcome them ahead of time. You can make micro and macro changes. Here’s to the New Year!