I’m a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. The thought of lighter days and Spring being on the horizon puts me in a really positive mood and makes this time of year the perfect time to reassess what I really want for myself. Also the fact that there are so many other people out there wanting to improve their lives means that there’s a lot of support – and that’s really important.
My New Year’s resolutions generally always focus on making long term, sustainable changes. I may have some short term goals, but these generally feed a longer term desire to really improve my life. The great thing is that I’m constantly being told that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit – fantastic! I’m positive that I can dedicate myself to doing something (or not doing something) for 21 days and voila, my life will have changed.
So where did we get this notion that we would form new habits after only 21 days? This theory became common thinking in the 1950s when a plastic surgeon called Maxwell Maltz began to notice a pattern in the length of time that his patients stopped sensing a phantom limb or got used to seeing their new nose. He did some more research and wrote “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
Maltz’s work influenced many leading professionals from life coaches to motivational speakers, however what ensued was a game of Chinese whispers until at some point the public was being told that they could form a new habit in only 21 days! The truth is that Maltz said this was the minimum time required and lifelong habits can take months even years to develop.
On a positive note our brains are capable of change – neural connections can be strengthened and new connections made. The ability of our brain to change (for better or for worse) is called neuroplasticity. Our brains are most ‘plastic’ in our childhood, however we don’t lose this plasticity and with a little perseverance we can change at any age – it’s never too late.
My practical tips
The key to making these changes is to make them easy and I mean really easy. So easy in fact that you’d feel slightly silly if you didn’t achieve it.
Pick up a pen and paper and do the following. Are you ready?
1. Start by writing all of your goals down, no matter how wild and wonderful they seem.
2. Now pick just one goal.
3. Think of 1 positive change that you could easily make to start you on your way to achieving your goal. The reason I say positive change is that it is far easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something that you have done for years.
4. Now make that positive change really, really simple. It could be to drink a glass of water as soon as you get up or do 3 press ups each day after work.
5. Now, in the words of a popular fitness brand JUST DO IT!
In my next blog I’ll share my goals for 2016 with you and tell you exactly what I’m going to do to ensure that they become part of my life.
Wishing you all health and happiness Nathalie