I love every new year where renewal seems so possible in our lives. This year, entering 2021 feels like a poignant new year. Since all the usual norms have gone out the window, and the whole world feels like it is undergoing a significant change, it opens up that fresh feeling of possibility for what is ahead, something better to come.
Daydreaming, visioning, planning is so fun. We can think BIG, set big goals, and we can dream of larger things in our lives. Once that fun of dreaming, planning, setting resolutions passes, life happens, and the human tendency is to not follow through on those dreams. Why is this? I call it the Macro/Micro disconnect. We dream in the ‘macro,’ but we live in the micro. You may want to lose 15 pounds, build a dream business, train for a marathon, and that larger goal is exciting for about a day. But then life happens, and life exists in the micro. If you are trying to lose weight, then the micro is the decision you make when you face the counter’s Christmas cookies. If you are trying to grow your business, then the micro lies in that decision to finish your emails instead of going to bed. These micro-decisions add up in one direction or another. Unfortunately, most of our lives occur in the subconscious micro decision state where all these cumulative decisions add up into habits that create the results we have in our lives. If I am 15 pounds overweight, I have made 15 pounds worth of food decisions. If my bank account has this number of dollars in it, it accumulates many decisions I made over the last quarter. Some decisions were conscious ones, but so much of them were not.
The goal-setting at the beginning of the year is essential. We can set a level of commitment and decide what we want. But that often comes easy. The more challenging part is continuing to keep the goal alive in our consciousness so that every time there is a micro-decisions to make, we don’t fall back into older habits, let each step slide so that by March, we don’t even remember what we set out to create.
There are a few hacks to creating new habits and actions that lead you to reach your goals.
- Make what is subconscious conscious. If you want to break a spending habit or an eating habit, or a drinking habit, start writing everything down. What did you spend each day, eat, drink, etc., and notice, try not to judge it, but take inventory so that whatever you were doing comes to light
- If you have a large goal, write it down and share it with people who will support you in achieving it. Display it on your desk or your bathroom mirror.
- Make the micro easier and more fun. Forming new habits does not have to be a drag. Find ways to add a little pleasure to your new practice. If you hate waking up early but are trying to get into that habit, make the mourning routine something easy and pleasant, such as a lovely coffee mug, or soft music, so that you can at least look forward to those first few minutes out of bed.
- Don’t set more than one goal at a time. The constraint is essential. Our brains like to keep things simple, automatic, and straightforward. If you try to change things up too much, your brain will get frustrated, pissed off, and give up.
There are fascinating research and proven techniques for creating new habits. What I listed above is very cursory. There are several recently published books on habits that are available on this topic. I love reading about these things, but the actual doing of breaking old habits and creating new ones is not easy. This challenge of getting from the intellectual and into action is what draws me to life coaching. I have a coach, and I think everyone should. We all need accountability, someone to nudge us and believe in us, and a voice in our head that we hear every time we make those micro-decisions during our day. If you are interested in learning more about my new year-long program, “Brain Spa,” where we make significant changes in just six weeks and keep up that maintenance and commitment for the year, you should book a free consultation call with me today.