Pinnacle Personnel Services, LLC | Debbie Hatch
This title is not intended to be a throw back to the trite “if it’s important, you’ll always find a way” fitspo quote. I don’t believe in that, personally. There’s so much that’s important, it can be overwhelming. Life happens. There are things we can’t control. I selected this title, rather, as a call to action; a suggestion to really think about what it is you’re trying to do, and why you’re not already doing it.
Simply making a resolution to “start doing [insert any action – eat better, work out more, save more money, be less stressed, practice self-care as some common examples] does not take into account all of the reasons I haven’t been doing those things right along.
Good habits, especially ones drastically different from typical lifestyles, are hard to get started and even harder to keep. According to one survey I read, only 7% of people who made New Year’s resolutions in 2019 actually stuck to them. That means 93% did not! I won’t even wonder how many people have been able to stick to their goals in the craziness that is 2020.
Maybe we need to address the reason we’re not already doing “this” though. Perhaps looking at the cause rather than the symptom would be helpful? Here are five super simple and actionable steps you might want to consider.
STEP ONE: Address root causes.
Have you given any thought to why you think you want to do this thing? Really.
Is it because you “should”? Because you’re expected to? Because someone else has been nagging you to? Or because it is in your best interest and you really need to get a handle on it?
If it’s important to you, why are you not already doing it?
What are the triggers that cause you to impulse buy, eat a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s standing by the kitchen sink with a spoon in your hand (hey, no judgement), spend your paycheck on Amazon vs saving for your retirement, or self-sabotage every time you start to make progress?
Think about that. Honestly. Write down your thoughts. It is absolutely okay to seek help too – be that from a friend, confidant, or professional.
STEP TWO: Add 20 minutes each day to your schedule.
This is non-negotiable personal time. It’s only 20 minutes! Set a timer first thing in the morning. Take 10 minutes to think about what you want your day to look like. Not just a to-do list, but how you’d like to feel too. Write this down. In an old-fashioned paper notebook (that makes it feel a bit more “real” than merely typing something up on the computer). Keep it with you.
STEP THREE: Follow through.
As we go through the day we make a series of decisions. Should I bring my lunch, or eat out (again)? Should I have this treat that my co-worker brought in/ Should I buy a $6 latte or spend $10 to purchase that small coffee pot for my cube? Do I really need this new shiny thing that’s miraculously showed up in my FB feed? Really? Can I fit in a walk? Stop for 30 seconds prior to each decision and ask, “does this fit with my goals for the day?” If not, “what alternate choice would?”
STEP FOUR: Review your progress daily.
Before you go to bed, set your timer for 10 minutes. Write down your thoughts about the day. It’s not a gratitude journal. A friend of mine calls it, “counting wins”. What are you pleased about? What went well? Where did you not reach your goal and – this is important – if you didn’t, how could you change the situation or your reaction to any trigger, the next time it comes up? It will come up again. It always does. Plan for that.
STEP FIVE: Commit to doing this every single day for 30 days.
At that point, set aside a full 20-30 minutes to review what you’ve accomplished in the month. NOT where you failed but where you succeeded. Celebrate your wins. Recalibrate. Recommit.
Make them actionable. Write down the things you can actually control – not necessarily the outcomes. For example, instead of “lose weight”, “eat vegetables with at least one meal per day” “make a weekly menu and grocery shop every Sunday”, “have protein with every meal” or “drink at least 6 glasses of water per day”.
“Open a retirement account”, “save $50 per paycheck”, “impose a 30 day spending freeze”, “pay the credit card bill, in full, every month”, “increase TSP contributions by 1%”, or “don’t make any impulse purchases for the next two weeks” are all better than, “make better financial decisions” or “save for retirement”.
“Schedule one dinner with family, every month” or “go to a movie with friends every other month” are more concrete ways to “spend more time with family and friends.”
See the difference?
I’d love it if you’d be willing to share one of your goals. Putting them in writing is an affirmation – it can help you achieve your goals. Sharing them with another person is an additional layer of commitment and, again, may help you reach them.