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Why Wait Until the New Year? The Time to Change Your Habits is Today
What's the one thing in your life you would change today if you knew you couldn't fail?
Now ask yourself, "Why is failure ever an option when it comes to my life?"
Have you ever looked at the span of human life in months? Check out this illuminating graph from Tim Urban at waitbutwhy.com.
Where are you on this chart? What if you don't live to be ninety? Sometimes just seeing an illustration of the shortness of life helps us understand that we may not have as much time as we like to believe. Maybe improving our habits shouldn't be an annual resolution but a daily, weekly, or monthly self-analysis, depending on the goal or practice.
For a more personal representation of your existence, consider the Life Calendar at waitbutwhy.
A Guide to Resolutions
Sure, you could wait until some cliche date on the calendar to make a change, but why? Thats' only kicking the can down the road and making it less likely you commit or succeed. Whether eating better, working out, getting a new job, or anything else, every day is a new year.
According to discoverhappyhabits.com, only 7% of people stick to all of their New Year's resolutions, while 19% keep at least one. A whopping 25% of people don't make it past the first week before dropping or altering their resolutions.
To successfully change a habit and keep a resolution, you need a plan. When making your plan, keep these basic ideas in mind:
- Have a realistic goal and start small.
- Track your progress.
- Concentrate on one or two resolutions.
Why habit change is difficult
Changing a habit or beginning a new healthy one requires a sort of rewiring of our biology and psychology. Most of our practices are subconscious, and shifting them towards awareness is the first step to success.
Think about the things you do every day, like driving or typing. You had to concentrate when learning these tasks, but today you perform them on autopilot. Remember how you had to think before every keystroke or check your mirrors twice with your hands at 10 and 2?
The exact biological process must take place to rid yourself of a particular behavior or acquire a new habit. You must remain conscious of your resolution for it to stick.
The psychology of a bad habit often makes it hard to kill. Maybe it's peeking into the refrigerator every time you walk past or taking a nap while you watch TV after work. These can be triggers for your habit.
To help stop a bad habit, avoid the triggering action. Start a new practice by creating a trigger or reward system. If you want to exercise more, keep your workout clothes in the car and head to the gym straight after work. To eat better, start a food journal and make every snack decision conscious and trackable.
Identifying triggers and using them to your advantage enables your resolution to become a reality.
The effects of your habits
The most overlooked aspect of habits is understanding how they affect your life. Do you eat because you're bored, bite your nails when nervous, or sleep when stressed? Many of the habits we wish to change are in response to other areas that may need addressing.
Failing to understand why you do something makes it nearly impossible to change. Finding your "why" isn't always obvious.
You may think you stay in that job you hate because of money, but maybe the fear of change is more significant than your current circumstance. Your unhappiness at work could be at the root of many of the habits you wish to change.
Investigate your habits below the surface to discover their origin. Fix the underlying problem, and a few of your other unhealthy habits might disappear too.
Picture your change
Imagine the impact of your intended habit change and how it could lead to living your best life. Now picture your life without this transformation. Visualizing both sides of the coin helps motivate you towards your goal.
What will your life be like if you break a few bad habits and develop a new, healthy lifestyle? How would learning to speak a new language or play an instrument improve your life?
A resolution shouldn't be a dream, like winning the lottery. All goals are achievable but require that you take action.
"Your favorite athlete's first workout was just as bad as yours. Your favorite chef's first meal was just as bad as yours. Your favorite artist's first work was just as bad as yours. Keep going."
- James Clear, author of "Atomic Habits."
What's your resolution?
Whatever you resolve to do or change, taking action is the vital first step. There's never going to be a perfect time to train for a marathon, start a new business, lose weight, or quit smoking.
All change involves perseverance. If it were easy, you would've done it already!
A 2017 study at Stockholm University found that 70% of resolutions fall into the "physical health" category. Coming in a distant second, at 10%, was "self-improvement."
What's most important to you? How long are you willing to wait for a better life?
Anther. Male wellness where it counts.