New Year’s resolutions have become an almost polarizing topic. This is especially true with the pushback on hustle culture and conversations on burnout, as many people look to ease the constant pressure to be better and instead just be. However, the new year inspires us to reflect on the year gone by and plan for our vision of the one ahead. It can be daunting with all the messages for a New Year, New You, and invitations to join challenges from diet overhauls to 5 a.m. Bootcamp-style workouts to implementing a top-to-bottom reinvention of your mindset and routine. Do you have “challenging” as your word of the year for 2023? No, neither do we.
Well, fantastic news! You don’t have to drag yourself to a sweat sesh before dawn, adopt the latest supplement trend (mushroom powder, anyone?), or make drastic, cold-turkey changes to step into your best health. One of the top reasons New Year’s resolutions fizzle out after mere months is the lack of sustainability in the approach. If the new plan is too extreme, it leads to discouraging missteps and, too often, abandoning efforts altogether. So, the key to a more elevated you is to design a realistic wellness plan that works for you wherever you are in your process. You can skip overhauls and take a gentler, more practical approach. Here are three tips for upgrading your life without the overwhelm.
Set Intentions Before You Set Goals
It’s a bit unorthodox in our data-driven world to suggest you not measure and track every point of your self-improvement strategy, but it’s a helpful way to ease into setting more mindful goals. For example, say you decide you want to run a marathon. Why do you want to reach this goal? Ask yourself if it’s important to you to complete a race or if there’s something hidden in another layer. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we think achieving a particular goal will mean for us, our self-worth, or our ego, and it’s not always easy to see.
Consider the common practice of the 30-day fitness challenges often hosted by all types of exercise studios. If you’ve ever participated in these, then you’ve probably noticed that they offer contingencies like doubling up on classes one day if you missed the previous day. This can give some grace to anyone who has unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances and encourages them to keep going even when they hit a bump in the road. The risk, though, is the focus can become the act of completing 30 classes in 30 days instead of focusing on the cumulative benefits of daily movement and creating new habits. When you start doubling down on workouts, you also run a higher risk of injury and burnout, all in the name of achieving a so-called goal.
Similarly, you can drink eight glasses of water in the morning and need to be better hydrated. Here we’re assuming that the goal of drinking eight glasses of water daily is rooted in the intention to be hydrated. In the language of data, these examples are called vanity metrics. They may mimic success but fall short of the desired outcome in the same way that a business may have thousands of followers on social media but isn’t making any sales from those followers. Don’t gauge your successes on vanity metrics. Instead, let your intentions be your guide to feeling good.
Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results
What progress is really like is best explained by James Clear in his best-selling book Atomic Habits. He says:
“Imagine that you have an ice cube on the table in front of you. The room is cold and you can see your breath. It is currently twenty-five degrees. Ever so slowly, the room begins to heat up.
The ice cube is still sitting on the table in front of you.
Still nothing has happened.
Then, thirty-two degress. The ice begins to melt. A one-degree shift, seemingly no different from the temperature increases before it, unlocked a huge change.”
This is true for any new habit or practice–breakthroughs are typically cumulative events. (We covered how this shows up in float sessions here.) So, remember this when you’ve been on your new exercise plan for two weeks and feel sore. You could be one degree or one rep away from that dumbbell.
Consistency is Key
No surprise here! To make any significant and lasting change, consistency is a non-negotiable and, admittedly, takes a bit of practice. Your intentions will come into play again here because consistency will come easier if you stay connected to why you committed to your upgrades in the first place. For example, your money-saving efforts are more likely to remain intact if you know those dollars are adding up to a downpayment on a new home or airfare for the trip of a lifetime rather than attempting to simply save more money. Consistency is the only way that tiny changes add up to remarkable results.
One of the secrets to creating consistency comes from the late Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, who said, “Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.” It’s a significant mindset shift because it requires that you put those things in the forefront of everything you do rather than squeezing them in when (or if) you have time. Don’t get discouraged if you get off track now and then, especially in the beginning. Just pick up where you left off and keep going. Consistency shouldn’t be taken as a grind, though. It applies as much to rest and recovery activities as it does to taking action. So, don’t skimp on prioritizing sleep, downtime, breaks, meditation, reading, and rest days.
As you ease into the new year if any of the goals you’ve set for yourself start feeling like a big ask and you want to resist, reframe it through the lens of these three things–intentions, tiny changes, and consistency. Chances are, there’s a more doable route to enriching your life.
Ready to prioritize some quality you-time? Book your next float here.