If you want things to change, YOU need to change, in manageable and habitual ways. That’s why my word of the year is HABIT.
When I saw the “word of the year” idea on various blogs I follow, I knew it was something I had to do. I’m soon-to-be 43 and for most of my life I’ve set goals and created plans to achieve them. This is never more so than at the start of a new year, which sends me into a giddy frenzy of targets and action plans. With a word of the year, I would have focus around those goals.
But what would my word be?
To decide, I had to think back. For the last few years my goals had been motivated by a vision of a thinner, healthier me looking in the mirror 365 days later.
But on the first of January 2017, the me that looked in the mirror was some 3 kg (over 6 and a half pounds) heavier than the one that saw in January 2016, continuing the trend of a 3 kg weight gain every year for the last five years. She had not run a half marathon in 2016 as she had planned. In fact, she hadn’t run at all since about March.
So I looked at myself with the muffin top hanging over the skirt that had looked good on me last year, and thought, What the hell happened?
Well, those five years coincided with meeting and marrying the love of my life. During those years we’d developed some unhealthy habits, such as large portion sizes, Friday night treats of king-sized blocks of chocolate and Pancake Sunday, despite my constant goal setting around weight loss.
The thing is, we are not what goals we set. We are not some untapped potential waiting to be realized. We are what we do. Every day.
And what I’d been doing every day was eating too much of the wrong things. Those habits stopped any form of progress I made through running, fasting, whatever.
How many of you set yourself a resolution for this year that went something like this?
“I’m going to lose 10 kg this year. I might do something like calorie count Monday – Saturday, and then Sunday I can have a cheat day. But I can eat whatever I like if we go out, because we don’t go out that much. And when we have a morning tea shout at work. And…”
“I’m going to run a half-marathon… so I guess I have to run three times a week. I want to have the weekends free though… And I won’t be able to do any then because we’re going on holiday…And I can’t go running today because I’m tired…”
Thinking about this now, it seems that when I started to plan my goals, I was always looking for a way out of them, as though to do them was some form of imposition on my ideal life (which truth be told, seemed to be sitting in front of the tv with a bowl of ice-cream).
The crazy thing about that was, these goals were meant to make my ideal life happen.
So that’s why I haven’t set myself any goals for this year. Nope- not one.
But I have decided to bring in some extra habits into my life. Some non-negotiable, I’m in every day, all day, no matter what, habits.
I plan to utilize the following of Gretchen Rubin’s habit strategies to help me succeed:
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The Clean Slate Strategy of Habit Formation
The Clean Slate is a strategy for beginning a new habit. It takes the idea that some external factor in your life has led to a fresh start, where you have the chance to start again.
Gretchen Rubin talks about it here:
There is no more regular and motivating fresh start than the beginning of a new year!
The Pillars of Habits: Foundation, Scheduling, Monitoring and Accountability
Pillars of habits are the fundamentals that you need to ensure success. These pillars of habit formation will help me with getting back into the habit of exercise.
I will build on my foundations by drinking two liters of water a day and getting enough sleep.
I will schedule in my runs for three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday as these days have consistently worked well.
I will monitor my runs by using the Couch to 5k app to get me to the first 5km.
I will be accountable by sharing my new habits with you, my family and friends, and also my husband, who will be running with me.
Desire, ease and excuses.
I will use the strategy of abstaining to help me with better food habits by stopping our weekly chocolate “treat” and having no chocolate in the house.
I will use the strategy of convenience by eating my dinner off a smaller plate, and of inconvenience by telling myself I can have more but I need to go up and get a second helping.
I will use the strategy of loophole spotting by identifying and rejecting the category of loopholes I am invoking.
I don’t know about you, but I feel excited about the thought of bringing in consistent daily habits that will work towards a healthier, happier me. Habit seems like the perfect word of the year!
Do you have any habits you plan to start this year? What strategies could you use to achieve them?
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