BEYOND JANUARY 1ST. CRACKING THE CODE OF NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS: SMALL CHANGES FOR BIG IMPACT IN 2024
Written by: Claudia Haller NBC-HWC
The new year is upon us, and many of us are gearing up for 2024 with big plans and grand aspirations. We are eager to wipe the slate clean and are looking forward to a fresh start. We’re stocking the fridge with healthy foods, renewing our gym memberships, and writing long lists of all the things we can’t wait to accomplish over the course of the next 365 days. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a new beginning.
The problem is, for most of us, our enthusiasm fades quickly. Life gets busy, and our list of resolutions loses its novelty. We may even forget what our resolutions were. It isn’t long before we slide back into old patterns. We find ourselves only a few weeks into January, telling ourselves, “Oh well, I guess I’ll try again next year.” How absurd to think that we have to wait a whole year to start over! Of course, we know that we can start a healthy habit at any point in the year, but January 1st feels like such a nice, clean point for a total reset. It feels refreshingly symbolic to open to the first page of a brand new calendar. So, how can we make those resolutions stick? We put down the lengthy list of big changes. We let go of the idea that we must stick to them unfailingly. Why do we set such unfair and unrealistic expectations for ourselves? Instead, we focus on making sustainable life changes, starting with small habits.
Let’s make 2024 the year that we finally stick to our resolutions! Here are some ways that you can turn this year’s resolutions into lasting lifestyle changes.
Make Small Changes!
New Year’s Resolutions often fail because we are trying to do too much all at once. Big changes don’t happen overnight. Instead, try to introduce small changes into your routine gradually. Start small, and once you are comfortable with maintaining one new habit, add another. It also helps to be specific. For example, instead of saying, “This year, I will keep my kitchen clean,” try “I will wipe down my counter every day.” Keep up with that one small change until it becomes automatic. Then build on it.
Two helpful ways to do this are the strategies of habit pairing and habit stacking.
Habit pairing is when we attach a new habit to one we are already used to. This can be especially useful for incorporating less enjoyable tasks into our routines. For example:
· Do a load of dishes while you listen to an audiobook or your favorite podcast.
· Fit in some quick exercises while you wait for your food to cook.
· Straighten up while you chat on the phone.
Habit stacking is almost the same thing, except that its focus is not just on attaching habits but building upon them. For example, you probably don’t even have to think about brushing your teeth in the morning. If you start taking your daily vitamin when you brush your teeth, it’s easier to remember, and before you know it, one automatic habit has become two. It’s easier for the brain to strengthen existing neural pathways than to create new ones.
In 2024, it’s time to finally prioritize sleep. Sleep is such an important aspect of our well-being, so why is this one such a hard resolution to keep? In our busy lives, it seems like there just isn’t enough time to accomplish everything we need to do. There are so many obligations and not enough hours in the day. Something’s got to give, and more often than not, it ends up being sleep. It doesn't matter that we recognize sleep’s value if we can’t find the time to give it priority in our lives. If we’re going to make this resolution stick, we need to make it work within the confines of our busy schedules. This means starting with small, realistic adjustments. “I will start going to bed early” is vague and unlikely to last. Instead, set a specific, manageable amount of time. For example, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual. Once you’ve solidified your earlier bedtime, try to push it another 15 minutes sooner. You’re probably not doing much of importance in those 15-30 minutes at the end of the night anyway, but that small amount of time can be of immense value to your sleep. Check out some helpful tips for winding down before falling asleep HERE!
This year, make an effort to move more. We often abandon the resolution to exercise because, once again, we just can’t find the time. Adding some extra movement into your life does not necessarily mean going to the gym every day. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Make it fun by taking up an active hobby like hiking or bicycling. You could even add both enjoyment and accountability by including your friends. Schedule time to go for a nice walk and catch up. Or, keep up with each other on fitness apps such as Fitbit or Peloton. These are great ways to add motivation with some challenge and competition.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Instead of focusing on restrictive diets, embrace balance. Healthy eating is important, but limiting your favorite indulgences is simply not maintainable for the long term. Try to choose mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body with the energy it needs. Maintain a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. This will benefit you by lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, preventing some types of cancer, and positively impacting blood sugar, among other advantages. Incorporate a variety of vegetables by experimenting with new recipes and being sure to include different colors on your plate. HERE are some ideas for making delicious, nutrient-dense meals!
Make Time for Self-Care
Self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. If you’re like me, you’re probably used to taking care of everyone and everything around you: your family, your friends, your home, your job responsibilities. It’s easy to neglect your own well-being. This year, make a point to stop putting your own needs aside! After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Whatever it is that rejuvenates you, be it a relaxing bath, a daily walk, or time dedicated to a favorite hobby, find a way to make it happen. Of course, that’s easier said than done. So, this year, schedule your self-care and make it non-negotiable. Mark a date on your calendar and treat it just like a meeting or appointment that you can’t miss. Or, block off a chunk of time in your day, and make it a part of your routine.
It’s also okay to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you. Get comfortable saying no to plans. Being free and being available are not the same thing. You do not owe anyone your time or energy. If something doesn’t fill your cup, let it go and make room for the things that do.
Cultivate a Positive Mindset
Your mind is an incredible force. This year, let’s harness its power to shape the future we want. Practice gratitude, use self-affirmations, and approach each day with a positive outlook. Positive thinking has been proven to actually rewire the brain. Through regular gratitude and self-affirmation practice, we release serotonin and dopamine into the brain, the chemicals responsible for making us feel good. The brain even builds new pathways for them to travel through. We release less cortisol, which is responsible for stress. We become happier, more confident, and more successful. You can make a positive mindset a part of your routine by adopting one or more daily practices, including:
· Writing in a gratitude journal
· Starting each day with positive affirmations
An optimistic view will also help you to stay motivated to accomplish all of your other resolutions!
This year, embrace the idea that the path to meaningful change is paved with small, manageable changes. If you can prioritize these important ways to improve your well-being, you’re on your way to a happy and healthy future.
If you are interested in these suggestions and you need help planning them into your days, then working with a coach might be the perfect solution for you. During a strategy session, we will discuss your goals and come up with a plan that is tailored specifically for you. If you are ready to take action and create balance in your busy life, click here now to schedule your free call.
Claudia is an NBC-HWC Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, the owner of Vibrant Health by Claudia LLC and Virtual Health Coaches LLC. She studied Health and Wellness Coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she also completed courses in Gut Health, Hormone Health, and Advanced Coaching. She is a Havening TechniquesⓇ Certified Practitioner and certified 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach as well as a co-author of two Amazon Bestsellers “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Soul Aligned Business” and “The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Soul Professional”.
To schedule a time for a free information call click here or join her Vibrant Health Power Community - a free Facebook Group - here.
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