I recently stumbled upon a staggering statistic: most new year’s resolutions will fail by the second week in February. Yikes, the odds are not in our favor. Depending on who you ask, resolutions can feel good or bad, showing up as motivation or unnecessary pressure. While one person might ask, ‘why wait till January 1st?’ the next person will want to take full advantage of that clean slate feel.
So often we struggle with the motivation to make a lasting change in our lives, myself included. The typical, go-to solution for behavior change, is figuring out how to ramp up your motivation. But motivation can feel fleeting, and we’re never truly sure what the day will bring. Just think of the last time you decided to set your alarm to get in some movement before work. It felt like a great idea the night before! But it sure does feel different 7 hours later when the alarm goes off.
Instead, try focusing on what might make the change in behavior easier to try.
This requires us to examine the context in which we’re making the change. The easiest, most tangible ingredient for us to take a look at, is the influence of our environment. When our environment supports us, we’re able to focus on the solution, not the problem.
Imagine you’re trying to uplevel your home cooking game in the new year. Perhaps you went home for the holidays to see family. Choices felt so easy when everyone spent time in the kitchen, contributing to some traditional favorites. But all of that changes when you come back and your roommates pick up where they left off on their evening takeout routine. It’s tough without support. Your resilience needs to be twice as strong, and that can feel pretty discouraging.
A little shift within or away from a specific environment can go a long way. It will take some steadfast creativity and a bit of honesty with yourself and others, but the good news is that our changes can be small and still yield big results.
So often our environment is littered with things that may pull us in the wrong direction. If the pantry is stocked with junk food, of course we’ll reach for that rather than cobbling together a balanced meal. But if the cabinet is looking trim and there’s pre-made salads in the fridge from Trader Joe’s, it’s a no brainer. You’re simply making the choice easier by setting yourself up for success.
SWITCH IT UP
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Einstein nailed this one, and never does it carry more weight than when we try to shift a habit. We’re not talking about life altering change– unless of course that’s what you want. The difference can be as small as popping into a team room at work when you’re stressed and you need to focus. Or taking a new route to walk on the weekends so the corner bakery isn’t calling your name. It’s only a slight detour from what’s been been happening for the last 12 months, yet these choices can yield dramatic results in a super easy way.
Imagine how much is possible when your mechanisms for change actually feel easy and enjoyable. What would you like to change this year? Is there something in the environment that’s holding you back? Take a closer look and do your best to remove those obstacles first. Then get to work on the change itself. The sky’s the limit and we’ve got a whole year to make it happen.
Megan Sanchez is the owner of UpSwing Health Coaching. She works one-on-one with busy professionals who want to revamp their lifestyle and prioritize self-care. Megan helps people develop habits that are built on super small, everyday commitments to nutrition, movement, and personal nourishment that feel good because your body tells you so, not because you’re following the latest trend. She loves both outdoor and urban adventures. She’s called DC home for 7 years.