The new year always triggers a period of reflection on what has happened over the previous year and triggers an eagerness to improve things for the upcoming year. For most, this reflection combined with a spike of motivation results in new goals and resolutions being set. Setting goals is a great practice, but the reality is 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail in January as the motivation subsides, and we find ourselves back in our normal routines.
So how do we utilize this time of reflection and increased motivation to our advantage?
The key to any long-term change comes from a change in the way you think. Changing the way you think is easy but most never do it. The changing of your thoughts comes down to asking better and different questions than you have asked yourself before.
The first realization that you need to have is that your current health and fitness status is a product of your lifetime’s habits. These include the obvious like weekly exercise and calories consumed but also 100’s if not 1000’s of little routines like sleep, hydration, stress and many others. It’s these many little habits that combine to give you your current health and fitness status.
The good news is these habits are changeable and if you go about it the right way and don’t try to change everything at once it’s actually not too difficult. The key to starting is asking quality questions that challenge your current thinking about your habits and whether the outcomes they are producing are worthwhile.
Here are the 7 questions worth spending some time thinking and answering when setting your focus for your health in the new year:
- What habits/behaviors’ that affect my health and fitness do I need to stop doing forever?
Try and think of 50+, could be nutrition, exercise, activity level, alcohol/drugs, mindset, organization.
- Of these things which are the ones that would be the easiest to change and also have the greatest positive impact?
- This year which of these things am I committed to stopping forever?
- In relation to the ones I am not willing to change ask this question of each-: What decisions I am actually making by deciding to keep this behavior?
For example: drinking alcohol in excess, you decide you don’t want to change this because of the social & physiological instantaneous rewards you receive but you are also making the decision to eat poorly/have bad energy tomorrow/not sleep well/impact future cognition and mindset/increase body fat. It’s important that we consciously understand these decisions to avoid making emotional decisions only and also to take complete ownership of our outcomes.
- What are the other lowest impact routines/habits that if created would have the biggest long-term positive change on my health and fitness?
Choose 1 to implement from now.
- How can I make my routine more fun or enjoyable?
Lots of people don’t naturally enjoy exercise and eating heathy but of these people there are a large proportion who have just decided they don’t like being healthy. Like a child that decides they don’t like vegetables and no matter how good a certain vegetable may taste, they won’t eat it because they have told themselves its not for them and they’ll never enjoy it.
7. To achieve long term change how does my environment need to change? Who in my circle needs to support me?
This is super important, changing routines and habits is very easy when the environment supports it.
Once these 7 questions have been answered you should have a solid understanding of your habits and routines and which ones you are prepared to change. The key is now not to try and change everything at once. Change a maximum of 1-2 things per area of health (nutrition/exercise/non exercise activity/sleep) per week. Choose the easiest ones to implement that will give you the biggest positive change first. Being accountable to the changes you commit make is critical, share the plan with the people who will hold you to account and be honest about your compliance.
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