By: Tricia Stefankiewicz
2021 is almost here! Many of us are starting to get excited for a fresh start and promises of a new beginning, eager to leave behind the craziness and sadness of 2020. This is the time when we start setting goals and resolutions for changes we want to achieve or become things we want to become better at. This tends to include big goals for our health, wellness, and self-care. The fad diets will start to be all over social media, and you may begin to start exploring gyms.
According to Holiday Season Report from Statista Global Consumer Survey shows, Americans have a goal of adopting healthy habits, with
• 44 percent wanted to exercise more
• 42% planned to eat healthier in 2021
• Most popular resolutions include improving one’s health’s with
o weight loss
o quit smoking
Most of us will never achieve these goals – as up to 80% fail, and then any desire to make the change will typically be finished by mid Feb. Why is this? Most of us aren’t ready to make the changes that we want but feel like we could/should be doing this because it’s a time of new beginnings. You may not be in the ACTION stage yet by January 1s where you are actively ready to start making a behavior change.
Where are you at in actually wanting to change your behavior? How strong is your motivation to change?
Behavior Change Model – 5 stages of behavior change – goal is to move to the next step, overall lets us become aware of our current motivation to change
o In this stage, person may not be aware that a problem exists and not actively working to change the behavior, maybe even in denial
o In this stage, person may be more aware that a problem exists but not making any commitment to change the behavior, hesitant to change behavior
o In this stage, person may start to have the desire to start acting, maybe start thinking they can do it and make some small changes towards their goal
o In this stage, person is actively practicing the desired behavior, working hard to identify triggers or things that will hamper their progress
o In this stage, person is practicing the desired new behavior– replacing the old behavior; typically, after you are doing the behaviors for 6 months
You may go back and forth between the stages until you learn the last time you tried to change this behavior. Behavior change will likely not occur in the pre-contemplation or contemplation change.
What can you do if you are not ready for that big audacious goal yet? Should you just sit back and wait for you to be ready. Nope. Focus on small steps you can take to get to the action stage until you are ready to make the change. Here are some suggestions when what you are doing is good enough for now.
A year in review
I don’t always believe there is value in setting New Year’s Resolutions and prefer to focus more on recapping the previous year asking questions such as:
• What routines did I develop that worked to make my life easier this year?
• What achievements did I have?
• What did I struggle with this year?
• What would make my life easier if I continued to work on?
• Routines: Morning or night-time routine, established a grocery delivery routine
• Achievements: More sleep, embracing change, being more comfortable in discomfort
• Life easier: going with the flow
• Struggle: Making time for yourself, inability to forgive past behavior
It’s important to see what you accomplished so that you continue to move forward building on what works for you and your family.
• Practice one thing every day for a year
• Practice one behavior every week for a year
Examples: make your bed everyday for a year; eat breakfast every day, read your kiddo a bedtime story every day for a year, save so much money each week.
Choose something small, that is important to you so that you do it. Have these align with the vision of who you want to become and what is important to you.
12 Month Challenge/One different challenge a month
This could be 12 different challenges focusing on different goals you may have such as: saving money, reading, eating more veggies/fruit, flossing your teeth, practicing gratitude.
Or a challenge to stop doing a behavior don’t like and focus on that this month.
Theme year (organization, more sleep, eat healthier)
Pick a word for the year as your theme and then practice a different task each month that helps achieve your desired goal.
• Organizing: each month pick a task that help achieve organization and focus on that task: system for hanging up clothes, backpacks, and shoes, process for mail and paying bills, process for cleaning up toys, process for laundry days, hiring a cleaner. Take the time to perfect the task to your family and then once completed, more onto to develop a new process. Over the course of the year you will have made strides towards your goal of organization by establishing routines over the previous year
• Healthy eating: make a new dish each month so that you have 12 new dishes at the end of the year that you feel like helped you achieve your goal of healthy eating.
• Increase Exercising: each month try a new workout
What will work to keep you focused?
Create accountability and a support system
This can include friends, family, online support group, work colleagues for monthly check-ins
Review your goals often so that you can figure out what worked and what didn’t in working towards those goals
Smart Phone apps including: Goal setting tracker planner, habit tracker, Strides: Goal & Habit tracker, or Done: A simple habit tracker
Plan for consistency – not perfection.
Consistency is what helps create a habit and provide motivation when you don’t feel like doing the desired behavior. Perfection doesn’t exist and may even derail health progress if we feel like we didn’t meet our goal for the day.
Behavior change doesn’t just happen, it requires continued action. The journey towards self-care, wellness, and health may take you outside of your comfort zone. But that’s OK. Growth and change come from discomfort and challenges. Whole Health is not an impossibility – but only consistency makes it happen. Remember to start where you’re at. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being 1% better each day. Be kind to yourself friends!