There is a trick to turning your life around and it is wonderfully simple.
Habits take a month to become muscle memory where the push to take action on the newly desired behaviour becomes routine.
This is what we want: that change we seek to be as easy as waking and brushing our teeth, no thought about it, no resistance, just action. Which does happen after one month of pushed actions, every day.
Then it is easier, and it gets easier, and easier. But the disclaimer is that this only happens, and can only happen, when we give our brain one change at a time.
That is the key. One single change at a time.
Not two changes, and don’t focus on the whole dream, just one step, one little daily change at a time.
If we make the change too big, made up of too many components, we can start out OK but soon enough we find ourselves struggling and often returning to old behaviours. Our brains find it overwhelming when we make the list too long.
We have a lot going on in our lives. We are busy night and day, and to suddenly change the whole routine sends our brain into meltdown, into shut down.
It is the main reason we start out good but end up where we began.
But if you just focus on one small component of the change; say you want to learn to eat healthier, instead of trying to figure out how to cook a whole range of new recipes for you and your family, three meals a day plus snacks overnight (it even sounds daunting), how about for one month you just focus on breakfast, and how about you just pick learning 1-2 new healthy breakfasts. Just make 1-2 new recipes per week for a month and get used to those so you can get to the point where you can organise those new meals on the run with minimal effort. Now for the next month add to this list of breakfasts another 1-2, or add in 1-2 lunch or dinners, and again just focus on those for a month.
Whilst this method might seem slow on the outside, it is proven to work and if you can make 12 life-changing steps that stick over a year, 12 lifestyle improvements, which is how much more ahead than you were last year?
We all want it to be easy and it doesn’t get much easier than only concentrating on one small change at a time.
This method is extremely useful across many types of changes. Say you want to quit smoking. Don’t focus on ‘quitting smoking’ just focus on the next time you go for a cigarette, decide to not choose the cigarette just that one time. Then you have won that little step. A few hours pass, then again it is just the focus on that one small decision. It will significantly help to direct the energy of the decision to ideas you know will aid you: instead of reaching for the smoke, walk to the chemist and grab some gum or a patch. Done – won. Again and again these small decisions build your willpower and build your routine brick by brick in your new direction.
And don’t forget, we all make mistakes and falter – we are human beings, not perfect beings after all!
So when that time comes and you slip, give yourself a break and move your focus ahead to that next one decision.
Remember it is still going up even with those little kicks down every now and then.
Leading into this New Years’, yes think about how you want to live your life and what changes that requires.
Then break it down and pick just one little change towards that bigger goal. Take one little change and make your next decision towards it. That is all. One small decision at a time. No more, no less.
You’ve got this.
One decision, one day, to one month, at a time. Make it muscle memory, make it routine before anything else is entertained.
You’ve got this.
We’ve got this.
Photo by Jorunn Lorenzen