Two months ago, I spoke about the necessity of “unflinching honesty” when beginning any kind of meaningful behavioral change. Today, I’d like to talk about intent and its inseparability from daily habits. The bottom line is this: if you truly want to change yourself, you can’t do it on automatic pilot.
But first, let’s take a moment to revisit the last 60 days. How did you do? (And be honest.) Did you start out full blast only to lose steam around mid-January? If so, you’re not alone. So what happened? If you faced your habits and motivations truthfully, good job! But keeping a resolution is a diligent task that requires daily intention.
There are two common culprits that can sabotage any resolution: incorporating too many changes at once, and, oddly enough, incorporating too few.
The first requires little explanation. None of us possess super-human powers, so it’s unreasonable to think we can turn ourselves into marathon-running, health-food aficionados in a matter of weeks. However, being too cautious and easing into new habits too slowly can foster apathy.
Exercise is a perfect example. If you tell yourself that you’ll exercise four days a week, then you’ve set yourself up with an excuse to brush it off from the beginning of the week. Sunday, you’ll want to relax with the kids. Monday, you’ll get caught up in work. Tuesday, you might have a headache, and so on until the week is over. There goes your intention.
If you tell yourself, instead, that you will exercise every day, then you’ve established an intention that doesn’t provide a built-in excuse. If you do happen to miss a day for a legitimate reason, don’t beat yourself up. Simply wake up the next morning with your daily intention to recommit.
By the way, it has been proven that it only takes 21 continual days to establish a new habit. Create a calendar reminder or smart phone alarm to help you stay on track.
Set out with the intention to tackle only “today” — but do this every day. Soon you’ll start to see your resolution take hold, and you can become the person you want to be.