There’s no shortage of sunshine and warmth in San Diego. Even in the winter. So I recently ate my lunch al fresco at a place called The Habit.
I’m all about quinoa and fresh veggies, but every once in awhile I crave a good ol’ fashioned cheeseburger and fries. Shrug.
Anyway, as I ate, I scrolled through the news (or People Magazine as some call it) and I was bombarded with 2017 preparedness taglines like:
New Year. New You.
Make this your best year ever!
10 ways to make 2017 sexier.
Between fries, I got to thinking about my goals and what new habits I’d like to make (teaspoon of apple cider vinegar every morning) or break (my The Habit habit) in 2017.
According to my good friend Google, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of those, 49% have infrequent success. Gulp! What about you? Is there a new habit you’d like to create or a bad one you’d like to break? Good news! Our pliable little brains are capable of great change. You can create new neural pathways to make your new habits stick or to unlearn bad habits because neurons that fire together, wire together.
Let’s get to rewiring.
Here are 3 simple steps to make your (good) habits stick.
Set the foundation.
Your brain is a hungry little creature. It gobbles up a massive amount of the nutrients that enter your body. If the grey matter isn’t healthy, it’s not going to do you any favors in creating new habits.
For optimal brain function your body needs to be hydrated, well-fed, and rested. So, blend those green smoothies. Sweat it out in Body Pump class. Drink water like you’re a Bedouin toting camel. Be your own sleeping beauty every night. Your brain will thank you.
A common belief is that it takes 21 days for a habit to stick. True? Maybe. Some habits can take 21 days. Some 3 months. Others even longer. Neural pathways that are so deep where things become habitual and automatic have been grooved out over years and years. Like putting your left sock on first or brushing your teeth in the same pattern every day. Those babies are as deep as the lines in Steven Tyler’s face.
To create a new habit you need to make new neural pathways in your brain one micro-groove at a time. It takes time to deepen the ruts. Practice and repetition are vital for the connections to be established and become habitual behaviors.
Stay focused. Be patient.
Connect with others.
Another excellent way to make your habits stick: community. Tell a friend. Tell everyone.
Interpersonal resolution has a different neural pathway. When your goals reach beyond you a world of support, resources, and community opens up. And you’re more resilient because you’re not going it alone. Notice the difference in these 2 examples.
- Example 1: My goal is to train for a marathon so I can hang one more medal on my trophy wall. I’ll download a training program and get to work. All I need is a good playlist and new running shoes. Ouch! My sciatica is acting up! I’ve lost my motivation to run today. No one understands my disappointment. I’m becoming disheartened. I drop out.
- Example 2: My goal is to train for the 2017 Rock ‘n Roll Marathon so I can get back to my true love: running. The endorphins will make me a much happier, energetic woman which benefits my husband. He lights up when I’m in a great mood! I’ll join West Coast RoadRunners club or maybe I’ll start my own with some friends. That way I’ve got support when I feel like quitting. And I can encourage them when a midweek 12 miler is the last thing they want to do. Bring it on!
Set your goals with clear intention. Build the foundation. Be patient. Connect. And you will succeed.
The sun is still shining. I need my vitamin D fix so I’m outta here. Here’s to an energized, abundant, creative 2017!
Simply resonating with confidence in you,