New Year’s Habits: Set a plan, follow the plan, start right now!

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Happy New Year!  I am back after a much needed, enjoyable week off.  I used my time to connect with family and friends, get some exercise, read, cook, plan a little and organize a lot.  I feel like I started 2013 off well, and feel grateful for the opportunity to get a nice start in a new year!  Several folks asked me in the last week how to make their New Year start off right, and especially if New Year’s Resolutions play any part in starting a year off well.

There are lots of conflicting opinions about the value and utility of New Year’s resolutions.  My overall thinking about them is that any habit, including a “New Year’s Resolution,” is simply a habit.  Anytime you want to do something different, change your life, get rid of bad behavior or improve good behavior, you have to examine the process of change.  Beacuse all too often, we think about our new habit, we may even talk about it to others, or pay some fee to some program, or really gear up to do it, and then it… doesn’t happen.  Failure to change happens instead!

So how do you successfully change habits?  Well, this is a topic we will cover in lots more depth over time on this blog, but for today I have a simple formula to start with.  This is from my friend Nathan Paul Womack (genius IT guy – check out his site here) and our conversation last week where he simplified the whole notion of habitual success into 2 simple sentences:  “Set yourself on a plan moving toward success.  Then, follow the plan.”

So simple, and yet so very hard to implement.

First, set yourself on a trajectory towards success.  This means lots of little habits you do over and over, each day, for a long time.  This can also mean, literally, thinking about and writing down a plan of what you are moving towards.  Set a goal, and identify what you need to get a few steps closer to the goal.  Start little, start big, do what works for you.  

Second, follow the plan.  Period.  Follow it, every day, consistently, without excuses, whether you feel like it or not.  Follow, follow, follow the plan.  This, by the way, is where most people struggle.  We are pretty good at thinking about plans, talking about plans, writing down our plans, pondering our plans, daydreaming, wondering, poking holes in our plans, etc, etc.  Where we tend to falter is in the following phase.  Best way to implement a plan?  Start implementing it!  Today, without excuses, even just a little bit.  Then repeat, repeat, repeat.  Eventually you will need to revise your plan and then follow whatever tweaks you made, but for now, just plan and follow, plan and follow.

Looking forward to hearing from you about what you are planning and how the implementation is coming along!

Thanks for reading, Dr. Carrie

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