Not because I think replacing bad habits with good ones is a terrible idea, but because of the way we tend to go about making our newly resolved metamorphoses. In essence, making grandiose and dramatic changes in a short amount of time is rarely effective… at least when it comes to long term sustainability. Believe it or not, human beings are extremely adaptable and we tend to do our best adapting when neither too little nor too much discomfort is involved in that which we are attempting to adapt to. For example, a popular NYR (New Years Resolution) is to exercise and get in shape. Now, if the entirety of your current exercise regime entails walking to the freezer for a second helping of ice cream, resolving to do hour long workouts at the gym 5 days per week will probably work well… for the first few days… actually they say NYR’s like these last an average of 6 days. The problem with going from 0 to 100 overnight is that it pushes us into too much discomfort. It’s too hard. It takes just too much effort and will power, and frankly, we are REALLY good at talking ourselves out of things that are too far beyond our comfort level. Like I said, most of us can handle and can talk ourselves into a little discomfort, but try to do too much too soon and that other little talk me out of it voice will almost always win out.
In contrast, and perhaps this is not very intuitive, but if we want to make major changes then we need to start small – small enough to be realistically manageable, but big enough to be at least a little bit challenging – we do still need something to be proud of. For above said example, a more realistic goal would be to start by doing a 10 minute walk (think once around 2 blocks) three times per week after work or after supper, or whenever. It’s a myth to think that you need to go big or go home. ANYTHING more than the status quo makes a difference. If we start incorporating things into or taking things out of our lives that are realistic and sustainable over the long term, they will be just that: Sustainable. And here on the West Coast, we seem to like that word a lot. It’s all the rage.