As we approach the end of the year, it is time for that ever-popular tradition of making a New Year’s resolution. “I’m giving up sugar in January.” “I’m going to the gym every day in January.” “I’m going to get 8 hours of sleep in January.” Ever heard of or made one of these statements or something similar? I know I have. But in recent years I have started to ask, what is so magical about January that we wait until then to “make a change?”
Historically, New Year’s resolutions have been around a LONG time, dating back over 4000 years to the Babylonians. They promised their gods at the start of the year that they would return borrowed objects and repay their debts. Romans similarly made promises of good conduct to their god Janus, whom they believed looked backwards to the previous year and ahead to the future. Today, making a statement about self-improvement persists as a new year's resolution, but this practice is usually, according to statistics, futile. Only about 8% of all new year's resolutions made are actually kept. So again, let us ask the question: Why wait until January to make changes? Why not start now?
Setting a New Year’s resolution is setting a goal. Goals help us get things done, stay on task, and provide a sense of accomplishment. But when we delay their start by waiting for the “right time,” we miss the opportunities that could happen today.
One of my favorite phrases that my clients, students, and all my friends get to hear from me repeatedly is: “everyone has a day one.” Whether it is the first time we ride a bike, get a job or try yoga, we all have a day one. There is a “Day One” for everything we experience in this life. Just like a New Year’s resolution, a Day One mentality is about wanting/needing/desiring change and then making that change happen. Goal setting. If we reframe each goal into a Day one mindset, that goal becomes more attainable, less overwhelming, and something we can do today. Today can be Day One.
So how do we start reframing these resolutions? There are 3 simple components to a Day One mindset: awareness, presence, and change.
- Awareness: Simply being aware of and acknowledging something we want to do/achieve/try is a huge first step towards Day One goal setting. For example, “I am aware that I want to exercise.” Recognizing what we want, writing it down, saying it out loud are actions we can take to begin the process of creating our Day one goal.
- Presence: Now that we are aware of what we want to do, we need to be present to the behaviors and attitude needed for this goal. We have to “show up” not just physically, but mentally too. “I believe i can exercise.” “I won’t let an excuse get in the way of this goal.” “I got this.”
- Change: Finally, we move, act, and do. We create change. Rather than taking on some enormous change (I’m going to exercise 7 days a week!), come up with one small action that is possible just for today. “I’m going to put my sneakers on and go out for a 15-minute walk at lunch today.” “I’m going to drink one more glass of water this morning.” “I’m going to go to bed 10 minutes earlier tonight” If we start with small, realistic changes, those little steps will add up over time.
No need to wait until January, you can try this today and see if you can create a Day One for yourself. It’s a simple adjustment in the way we think about goal setting and it works! If you find yourself struggling to set the goal, come back to the three steps, breathe out, start again, and eventually you will find that Day one leads to Day 2, 3, 4 until it’s a part of your life.