It’s that time of year again… the time when many of us reflect on what we have done in the last year and what we believe we should have done in the last year. On New Years Day, 50% of Americans will wake up with a resolution to do better this year. To be better this year.

However well-meaning those 165.1 million people are, less than 20% of those same people will wake up on February 1st with the same determination. And on December 31st, only 8% of those determined souls will be able to claim success. So that brings us to the question of “What are the 8% doing that makes them successful?” While I can’t speak for every one of the people that keep their resolutions, I can tell you that for me, the difference has been my approach.

I used to think of a resolution as a goal I had to strive for in one grand gesture. Now, I look setting goals and resolutions as an opportunity to re-visit my values and create new habits that support those values. Let me show you what I mean.

One of my core values is to take care of body and age gracefully. Now, I could make the same resolution that many Americans make- lose weight. I may start off strong, join a gym, and cut out junk food, but once the novelty of the new routine wears off and my everyday responsibilities start weighing on me, I, like 80% of people could lose the willpower to continue. What’s worse is that if I beat myself up for failing, the negative self- talk I experience (I should have known better than to think I could lose weight…) may increase my stress level making it even harder to lose weight in the future.

By creating habits from my values, I am able to tap into a spring of willpower that reminds me why I set the resolution in the first place. The knowledge of my “why” provides me with an extra boost of energy when I feel too zapped and drained to stay true to my plan.

Once you have identified the value to hang your resolution on, start by creating a small habit. By starting small, you’ll increase the sustainability of your plan and that first victory will help you build momentum that can serve as positive reinforcement

If you are hoping to lose weight, a great habit is to get more steps into your day. You could begin to create this habit by parking 100 steps further away from the door at work. It doesn’t seem like much, but it should be sustainable and by adding these extra steps into your routine, you would walk an extra 48,000 steps in a year. For an average person who doesn’t change their eating habits that would equate to losing about 4 pounds. Not bad for incorporating one, tiny, new habit.

Wondering what my new habit will be in 2021? I plan to continue to live my personal value of health and graceful aging by creating habits that improve my balance and flexibility. Not a resolution or a grand gesture, but simple habits that create a sustainable foundation on which I can build.

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