Can we still make New Year’s resolutions? I am sure we can. Maybe even better to do it now, because I bet that by the start of February it’s likely to have experienced failure in some kind of way. It’s tempting to let go of our good intentions after a few mistakes, but instead of abandoning our resolutions, let’s reconsider them.
To begin with, I don’t call them New Year’s resolutions anymore. Somehow I feel like we take New Year’s resolutions less serious, as if it’s ridiculous, almost childish, while I genuinely like the tradition of reflecting on the past year and thinking of what can be improved.
Maybe it’s the way we formulate our resolutions. I recently read an interesting post about this written by Mark Manson (who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck). He postulates that we shouldn’t focus on goals like losing 10 kilo but more on the underlying habits like exercising and eating healthy.
Coincidentally enough, even before reading Manson’s post, my boyfriend and I just decided to change a few habits. If you change some of your desired behaviors into habits, it’s easier to maintain those habits once created.
For starters, let’s take eating healthy.
January’s habit: Cooking every weekday
We regularly ordered in on weekdays, just because we felt tired or not liking cooking that day. We tried to change that a few times, but not very successfully. Since the first on January, we decided to cook together on every week day, creating a new habit.
‘To cook or not to cook’ is not longer a question every day. Already after two weeks, cooking felt like the normal thing to do. I even started to enjoy it, because we have more quality time together (and fewer fights about who’s responsible for making dinner).
This new habit also helps me to be more persistent in other healthy behaviors such as:
Limited alcohol and snacking
I think it helps to have rules. Clear rules. Drinking less wine and beer or snacking less is too vague for me. I have tried it. I have failed. Massively. Probably because I didn’t create a habit; but just tried to eat less chocolate at work. When I felt sad or tired, I used that as an excuse. Just this one time, I convinced myself, How much would that really matter?
Well, it matters. I don’t want to resist the urge of chocolate every day. To eat chocolate or not to eat chocolate? Come on, that’s impossible.
But I can set rules:
- I don’t eat chocolate or other snacks on weekdays.
- I don’t take alcoholic beverages on weekdays.
I almost took a glass of wine last week. I used my old rhetorics and said to my boyfriend: what does it matter, it’s only one glass of wine? But luckily, he said: No, you’re undermining the creation of a healthy habit.
One habit at a time
I think another key aspect of changing behaviors is not focussing on everything at the same time. When changing our cooking habits, I was tempted by making an exercise schedule as well as changing my sleeping habits, working more efficiently, etcetera. From past experiences, I know this would be a recipe for an epic failure.
I mean, think about it. You wouldn’t teach a child how to ride a bike, while at the same time learning him how to drive a car. Oh and while we’re on it, let’s learn the kid some roller skating too.
Nope. You would take baby steps. And although we’re adults now (at least that’s what they say), we still need those tiny little steps. One habit at a time. So what’s next?
February: Sleeping Princess
I don’t know how it works for you, but to me, sleep is the core of everything. Without my 8 hours of sleep, I’m a cranky, procrastinating, lazy bitch with crazy cravings for chocolate.
Seems about right to focus on sleep early on this year. No further explanation needed.
To fail or not to fail: The truth about my eating habits
While being a sleeping beauty for the next month, I’ll keep on focussing on my eating habits. In January, I let myself go a few times: saying yes to the treats my colleagues brought to work for instance (convincing myself that saying goodbye to a colleague is a good reason to eat sweets), then finding myself on a slippery slope…
At this point, I used to consider myself a failure right now. I’ll never eat healthy. I just can’t do it. And you know what? Who cares? Oh I could go on and on with these thoughts. Isn’t it more realistic to tell ourselves that making mistakes is human? Apparently, I still need to work on creating a healthy eating habit. And that’s okay.
Another core habit in my eyes is exercise. We all know the benefits. And no, exercise doesn’t make you slimmer: there’s a bunch of research showing that people tend to overestimate the burned calories during their workout…. and then…. eat more.
Whether it makes you slimmer or not, it’s healthy and gives a good feeling. Running helps me when feeling down. Ironically, when feeling down, I never feel like running.
It’s probably better to create a habit of running as well. The idea of a running strike (running every day) appeals to me, but right now, I don’t how to fit in a regular running pattern in my schedule.
So what about hiking, Liz?
Good question, glad you asked. This is a hiking blog after all. I have exciting plans for the summer, but since it’s not definite yet, I’ll leave you in suspense.
Challenge: walk 1000 kilometres in 2018
Regardless of our summer adventures, I’d like to hike more on a regular basis. I decided to join the challenge of walking 1000 kilometres this year, putting my second thoughts about this challenge aside.
Explore the Netherlands by foot
To attain my goal of walking 1000 kilometres, I definitely have to walk more in my home country. I mean, I cannot take off for months every year.
Regardless of achieving my goals, I think it’s worthwhile to explore our own living area more. It’s funny how we always seem to focus on adventures far away, while we hardly know what’s around the corner…
What else? 2018 has 12 months after all….
While I have plenty ideas of what I would like to achieve more this year, ONE HABIT AT A TIME, remember? Sleep, exercise, and eating healthy are key habits and after that, I am sure I’ll come up with a new monthly project every time.
Plenty of ideas: a mental health project – giving less f*cks about what others think of me would be a great challenge. Or a writing project – how cool to spend a month investing in writing and blogging.
In the meanwhile, I will also think of more adventures for this year and keep blogging about them. I’ll be delighted if you keep or start following me throughout 2018! Press the pink button for e-mail subscription, stalk me on Facebook, or check me out on Bloglovin.
More about hiking or habit building
- Get inspired by Mark Manson’s post about how your goals are overrated and why you really should focus on creating strong habits
- Every year I seem to have the same resolutions. Recognize that? Feel assured you’re not the only one when reading this post.
- My best nine hikes of 2017: get inspired and make your wishlist of 2018!
What do you want to change this year? And what’s on your travel list for 2018?