Did you know that by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence, your body will have grown 50 million new cells? … There! You did it again.
Our amazing bodies are constantly changing without us even trying. Out with the old and in with the new. It’s effortless, and it’s automatic.
So why is it so difficult to make changes on purpose?
You probably already know what I mean. Each January we get a fresh new year. And each year we make one or two (or eight or nine) big promises to ourselves.
Resolutions to be healthier. To be happier. To prioritize, plan, produce, and prosper.
It feels great, right?
Cut to March and—oops—most of those resolutions have been left in the dust.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Out of the millions of people who make New Year’s resolutions, 75% drop out before 30 days. Only 8% create real change.
But don’t be discouraged!
The problem may not be with making the wrong resolutions—but missing the one resolution you NEED to make FIRST.
It sounds counterintuitive but hang with me. The best-kept secret about keeping resolutions—or any change in your life—is realizing that one day… you will fail.
To Succeed You Have to Make Peace with Imperfection
Wait, Warren. If I know I’m going to fail eventually, why am I starting in the first place?
Because the magic of growth is in constant imperfection.
Ask runners. When they begin training for extended stamina, do they start off with a nice 26-mile sprint? No! Because our bodies don’t learn and grow that fast.
They have to start small, pace themselves, and work on their technique. And eventually, no matter how hard and fast they run, they have to rest.
The human body can’t sustain a high level of performance indefinitely. Understanding this is a crucial key to making lifelong change.
Humans tend towards an “All or Nothing” mindset, which makes cold-turkey resolutions sound impressive and attractive. But changes always involve that internal battle between learned habits/coping traditions and a new idea.
And when the stressors around you continue—as they love to do—there will probably come a time where it feels too much. Your mental “running muscles” give out.
Giving up wasn’t in the plan. So now what do we do? Usually, we either give up entirely or get even harder on ourselves.
The long-term philosophy works a little differently.
Resolve to Play the Long Game
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” —Marilyn Monroe
Resolving to fail doesn’t mean resolving to give up. It means acknowledging there may come a day where you slip, but your journey won’t be ruined.
Your worth won’t be tainted. And you will keep going tomorrow. It’s about giving your body grace to grow in a slower, healthier way, all the while towards positive goals.
It’s not about how many days in a row can I keep up a diet—but how will I respond the day after a slip? Shame and retreat? Or back up in the saddle?
That’s the difference between a fad resolution and a new lifestyle.
3 Tips for Getting Back in the Saddle
If you’re re-evaluating your resolutions plan, or want a few practical tips for the ones you already have going, remember these three steps.
1. Make your resolutions SMART.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound.
“I want to get healthy” sounds nice, and “I’m going to run a marathon in three weeks” may impress your pals, but if these resolutions don’t come with an action plan—or are crazy unrealistic— you won’t get anything accomplished. Try instead, “I am going to add 3-5 more servings of vegetables to my daily diet,” or “I am going to jog two miles three times a week.” Give yourself a game plan that you can grasp, track, and time for maximum success.
2. Find a team of motivators
I can’t emphasize enough how important outside support can be to establishing new habits and lifestyle. Those voices in your head can convince you that change is impossible. But 100x more powerful is a support system of encouraging friends, family members, or mentors. In fact, I’d love to help encourage you, too! You can find great health tips, resources, and other fun community updates here.
3. Prepare for imperfection
Remember, my friend, sustainable health is about real living. It’s a journey. And we’re all human. You will accomplish more for yourself by persevering through failure than someone who pushes hard for a few months and gives up after the first struggle.
This new year, whether you’re working on getting more sleep, eating more greens, kicking a bad habit, getting organized, working out, or just loving on the people near and dear, know that you don’t have to have it all together tomorrow.
You just need to get started—and get ready to get back up when you fall. Enjoy the adventure!
Want to Start Each Day with a Positive, Stress-Free Mindset?
Whole health often begins with what’s going on between your ears. I’ve developed a simple mental well-being checklist that you can use each day to optimize your mindset.