So, it’s been a little over two weeks since you made a promise to yourself. “This is the year, I’m going to eat healthy…cut down on the adult beverages…run a marathon…quit smoking.” Whatever your New Year’s Resolution was (and hopefully still is), chances are you’ve started to come across some of the challenges that it presents.
It is around the two week mark that we all have to make a decision. Do we carry out our plans and continue working on our resolutions or do we say we gave it the old college try and have a cheeseburger…wash it down with a beer…sit on the couch…and inhale? The way to stick to a resolution like working out or eating healthy is to make it a habit.
There are several views on how long it takes to form a habit (especially a good one). Based on personal experience, I side with those who think it takes about 30 days to form a habit, but it depends mostly on the person and the activity. I have made a little diagram to illustrate my point:
|Fun Activity (Voluntary)||Fun Activity (Obligatory)||Not So Fun(Voluntary)||Not So Fun(Obligatory)|
|Easy||7 Days||14 Days||21-30 Days||30-60 Days|
|Moderate||14 Days||21 Days||30-60 Days||60-90 Days|
|Difficult||21 Days||30 Days||60-90 Days||90-?? Days|
|Sample Activities||Recreational Sports Team, Charitable Volunteer||Rewarding Job, Fitness Group, Food Club||5am Fitness Boot Camp with a Crazy Instructor||Court Mandated Community Service|
For the purposes of this table the difference between Voluntary and Obligatory are simply that you aren’t necessarily in control of the schedule or your reason for doing it (hence, the feeling of obligation). For instance you may love love love your Rewarding Job, but you must be there from 9 to 5 and you need to go to pay your bills – - making it a Fun Obligation (I’m asking you to think positive here).
On the other hand, you may hate super hard early morning workouts, but you choose to attend Military Style Morning Workouts with a trainer who thinks he’s prepping Soccer Moms for combat in order to achieve the healthy body you want…i.e. a Not So Fun yet still Voluntary Activity. These are the activities where I find myself thinking, “Andrea, you bring these things upon yourself.”
The trick is to move every activity you want or need to achieve into either the Fun Voluntary or the Fun Obligatory Activity category. There are ways to make everything at least a little more fun, like attending crazy boot camp with funny friends (or trading it in for a high energy class that has the same calorie burn, but doesn’t give you Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
This week, put all of your activities into these four categories. Insert a “Habit Column” to the left of the “Fun Voluntary Column” and try moving a healthy activity one column to the left each week. Soon you will have healthy habits that you can stick to until your resolution becomes a reality!
NOTE: You may be wondering how you would move “Court Mandated Community Service” into the Fun Category. Here’s a hint – - Watch Mighty Ducks. It worked for Emilio Estevez!