Good habits to practice to help keep your health and wellness goals on track.
It’s early January. It’s dreary, misty, and cold outside. Members of my tribe slowly check in with me to say Happy New Year and inform me that they are doing a dry January or that they got up extra early this morning to get their workout in. Or that they are going to lose that extra weight they have been intending to take off. I cheer them on, support them, uplift them, but I cannot help but think to myself, what about after January?
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, nearly 50% of Americans intend on making a New Year’s resolution but only 60% keep those resolutions after the first month and only 8% keep those resolutions for the year. Despite the intention to make positive changes to our lives every new year, such as losing weight, drinking less and getting more sleep, the success rate of achieving those goals is low.
Intending. What exactly is an intention? Dictionary.com defines it as “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.” So how do we change an act or an instance of determination into many, repetitive acts of intention.
Enter the word we all know—resolution. Dictionary.com defines a resolution as “a formal expression of opinion or intention made,” and “the act of resolving or determining upon an action [or] course of action…” Even more telling is Dictionary.com’s “other words for resolution: resolve, determination, perseverance, tenacity; strength, fortitude.” These are the words you will need to carry you through to the end of 2022, not just till the end of January.
It’s great to intend the night before to wake up early by setting your alarm, telling your friend you will do so, and getting to sleep a bit earlier. And it’s great when you actually do it. But how do you power yourself to make it a habit. What will give you the staying power to see your project through to the end, to stay the course, is resolution.
Here are six good habits you can practice during the year to keep your health and wellness goals on track.
Embedded in the word intent is the implicit I will try, or I want: the desire. But embedded in the word resolve is the solve—the Resolving and Re-soling of the problem or the project you intend to accomplish or achieve.
The word has a finality about it, and within it contains the word “terminal”—reminiscent of the last bus stop, the terminal. Resolution is what gets you to the last bus stop, the end goal. But of course, the journey is not about the end, it is the about the journey itself, the tale of how you got yourself to the gym after work when you were tired and hungry.
To persevere is to keep going even when you don’t want to or when you feel like you can’t. It is what peels you off the cozy, comfy couch. It is what pushes you past what you think is the bottom of your tank, only to find there is more. According to the VIA Institute on Character, perseverance is the strength most associated with life engagement and achievement, which both adds to your happiness and well-being.
Tenacity is holding on. It is what makes you put down the chocolate bar and pick up the apple instead. Apples are high in sugar, pectin, and fiber, and power you through workouts. Chocolate feels good for a minute while it melts on your tongue into silky softness, but then comes the sugar crash and hunger cravings. And no way to power yourself through anything. Tenacity is accepting the weak moments but staying the course because you respect yourself too much. Because you will be happier later.
Strength, like anything, has everything to do with practice. Even more than the physical muscle, you need to flex the mental muscle that takes your intention of making a healthy food choice, over and over, until you do it without much thought because it has become embedded into your psyche.
It takes bravery to admit your failures and to get back up and try it again. Fortitude is not perfection. Fortitude is knowing you may have lost the battle, but you will win the war. Even though your intention may have failed you when you overstepped the boundary of the one square of chocolate a day (one square becomes one row which becomes, gasp! the whole bar…), it is resolution which allows you to rein in your raw desires and stay the path.
Practice Makes Perfect
Healthy habits are no different from any other habits–they require commitment, practice, grit, and most of all, the boring daily grind repetition that is required to transmogrify your intent–your will–into your resolution–your real soul evolution.