Here we are — with a clean slate on which to create!
New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday, holding the promise of 365 delicious days, 52 wonderful weeks and 12 marvelous months.
How Could This Year Be Different?
Like me, you probably have some ambitious goals for 2018. My usual tendency is to blast out of the gate with a long list. This year I’m putting into practice something different – a discipline I call the One-Thirty Plan.
It’s so simple – and, yet, it holds the promise of actually working. That’s because it’s a sustainable model.
Day by Day
We’re all creatures of habit, and these habits didn’t get here overnight. It took lots of repetition for you to get where you are in your behavioral patterns. Ask me how I know!
Starting this year, I’m implementing the One-Thirty Plan. It’s all built around doing one thing for 30 days. Following are two versions of the plan. The first one is for those of you who are more process oriented. The second one, in my opinion, has greater potential for compliance.
- Write down three major goals for 2018. Be as specific as possible.
- Chunk down each goal into three steps to get there.
- Each month (every 30 days) take just one of the steps and practice it for those 30 days. Resist the temptation to jump in any further.
- The following month, add an additional step to the mix, while continuing the first one.
- By the end of the first quarter of 2018 (March), you will have consistently practiced each of your three steps for your first goal for 30 days – more than enough time to form a new habit and stick with it.
- Beginning in April, start on your second goal.
- May through December – repeat.
- Prepare for backslides. If you need to take an extra 30 days to really seal in a new discipline before going to the next one, go ahead.
- Write down a major discipline you want to incorporate into your life.
- Do an activity toward that goal for 30 days.
This version works better for major lifestyle changes. The premise is that we build up enough successes that our system begins to “trust” us to carry through. And then momentum takes over.
The path to lasting change is taking baby steps and building on those. And we’re talking really tiny steps.
Have You Let Yourself Down Before?
We’ve all been there. We set gargantuan goals. We’re gung-ho on Day One. And maybe even Week One. The reality sets in, and old patterns rear their ugly heads.
Well, maybe you’re just not thinking small enough. According to a research study at Stanford University, you need to think tiny. Instead of vowing to go running every morning for five days, just lace up your running shoes.
That’s it. You’ve met your goal. Put an “X” on your chart next to the activity. Now, I could really wrap my arms (and legs) around a program like this!
The key is building on small successes. Then you can take the next step and the next one. Do one pushup instead of ten. Floss one tooth, not all of them.
The secret is you’re “rewiring” your brain all along the way – from Day One. And these tiny steps are successes from the get-go.
Celebration is crucial. Think of those fist pumps you see from athletes. They anchor in the success. Create some little sayings to repeat to yourself, either internally or externally. How ‘bout “Way to go!” or “I rrrrrock!” Whatever anchors the success for you.
The emotion of celebration glues in the tiny habit. “The reason is your brain wants to feel happy and excited,” according to the Stanford study on “Habiteers.”
Do your new habit enough times, anchor in your success, and your brain starts saying, “I get happy.”
Create, don’t break. The One-Thirty Plan is for the creation of positive new habits, not the ending of negative old ones — except for procrastination! Breaking habits is a whole different psychology.
What you can do, however, is create a new habit that blocks an old habit. Example: You eat too many potato chips at night. Quitting chips would not be a tiny habit. But deciding to take out (not eat) celery and carrots would be one – even if the veggies were placed on the coffee table beside the chips.
Remember: we’re talking about “rewiring” our brains, and that takes time. Practice makes perfect. The first time you assign yourself a tiny habit, repeat it five times from beginning to end to “seal it in.”
It’s One Thirty All Year Long
No matter what time your watch or calendar shows during 2018, it’s always One Thirty when it comes to your plan. And every day you “get” to anchor in your success even further.
After awhile, your system will respond by itself — wanting to go further along the path. This is when you know the plan is working! Although it may take longer, wouldn’t you rather devote the extra time to something that compels you toward action — and has a greater chance for success?
You may rewire your brain for the addition of “only” two major lifestyle changes all year. When you think about it, though, that could be light years beyond what you’ve accomplished before. And it’s likely more permanent because it has now become an ingrained habit.
Rather than the external taskmaster attempting to whip you into action, your internal trust meter starts to believe you really can do it this time.
2018 – bring it on!
©2018, Linda Arnold Life 101, all rights reserved. Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor, certified wellness instructor and keynote speaker. She’s also the Founder and former CEO of a multistate marketing company. For information on her books, go to www.lindaarnold.com or Amazon.com