Every year I make the usual New Year resolutions: lose that last stubborn body fat, be more tidy, more organised, exercise even more, travel more, do more with my free time, eat less bread and quit chocolate, see more films at the cinemaetc… Usually, by the end of January if not before, most of them are still just a list in my notebook and I haven’t put many of them into practice. I already exercise quite a lot already, I’m not overweight and I ignore my untidy house and the amount of stuff I have, so I soon abandon them.
This year, I picked up a copy of a book by Caroline L Arnold in the library. It’s called small move, big change and it suggest a different way of doing things. So far I’m impressed and it seems to be working for me. Here’s what she suggests and what I’m doing instead of my usual sweeping ‘I’m not going to eat bread ever again’ resolutions.
Caroline L Arnold talking about microresolutions on Youtube
These are tiny behaviour changes that you definitely have the power to keep. Never more than two main ones at a time. They are what Arnold calls ‘a no-excuses resolution’. It must be achievable and limited. For example, never eat bread again doesn’t qualify. These sweeping resolutions try to fix everything at once and instead you need to take it tiny change by tiny change.
Make them easy so you won’t break them
A microresolution should take you a step closer to your goal, but still be easily achievable. In fact, so easy that you won’t break it. For example, if you want to get fit, instead of telling yourself to go to the gym more, you can just resolve to walk to work one day a week. Start with a resolution you are sure to keep. Walking one day is achievable, reasonable – perhaps not always pleasant – but not so unpleasant that you will easily give it up.
Make them limited and frame them with a cue
Your microresolutions need to be carefully set out so that you can measure yourself against them – but still achieve them easily. So you could resolve to ‘walk to work one day a week.’ But you’ll need a bit more than than. Specify exactly what and when. So make it ‘I’ll walk to work on a Tuesday morning’. This doesn’t mean you can’t walk more than once, but at least you’ll be on the road to being more active and at least walking once a week.
Here’s what I did…
I am always trying to be organised, neat and tidy at home. Family life can be chaotic and junk and mess soon pile up. Every year, I resolve to keep things clean and start off with a mammoth tidying session until the house looks perfect. I try to keep it that way for a bit, then realising it takes up too much time, I let things go a bit and chaos descends again. This year I have made two microresolutions that are easy to keep and will at least be a move in the right direction.
- Make my bed before breakfast
- Take up a basket of junk that should be upstairs and put it away and vice versa.
I’m finding these easy to keep so I don’t feel like a failure with resolutions. Because I am feeling positive about my ability to keep tidy, I find I am putting away a few extra things anddoing a bit more than my resolution stipulates. So far so good. The theory is that you have to continue with a couple of habits for four to six weeks until they are ingrained. Then you can move on to something else. It’s slow but effective. Next step better fitness, shedding excess body fat, shedding excess stuff, travelling more, writing that book I’ve always been meaning to write… and so on…
The book is excellent and I highly recommend it.