Happy New Year you Healthy (maybe somewhat heavier) Silver Foxes!!!
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.”
What a perfect quote to ponder on this new year.
New Year always heralds the conversations of new beginnings - usually the first discussion point of January 1st of any year, in any place is: what will your new year’s resolution be? (although usually the discussion takes place over a slightly tipsy (last bit of fun for a while) new year’s day meal!)
Even though we’re older (and wiser), we still seem to maintain our child-like hope that we can indeed set some more new year’s goals, find the resolve to keep them and enter the next new year finally victorious over them. This time, we’ll be more disciplined, directional, intentional…..this is the year!
So what goes wrong…?
Not to start the year on a downer, but for most of us – our best intentions, will be, just that, our best/worst attempt driven by our old best/worst habits. Research has found that 1 in 3 of us Brits will actually give up our resolutions by today (10th January!) This date was identified as the peak failure day for throwing in the towel in 2022 and calling time on our ‘new’ selves. Our new resolve, it seems, is not quite as strong as our old habits.
Old habits are hard to break but good habits it seems are easy to quit. Why? Good habits are like long-term investments, the pay-off will be very fruitful but definitely not instant. The gains we accrue will happen slowly and will pay off in the future. Seen as we don’t live in the future – we somehow think that maybe we can just out-run it or simply try not to think about it at all.
The key difference between resolution and habit is that resolutions are completely goal-based. They focus on things like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to build a better relationship with my family”
That’s great! But the important part we’re missing is – How?
Habits are ‘how’ based – they are small, consistent steps which turn into long-term routine and behavioural change. A habit becomes a regular tendency, for example, “I will eat 3 portions of vegetables a day” or “I will put my phone in the drawer when we have dinner as a family.” Very different from my first set of resolutions – this is more of a battle plan.
See, you need revolution to succeed in resolution. You need to first know the who – which is YOU, to do the HOW which is creating new healthy habits.
We all know that us Silver Foxes aren’t getting any younger but we hope that what we aren’t gaining in years, we are making up for in wisdom – so why don’t we start with a few small habit changes this year? It is reported that the 18-20’s age group are actually a lot more likely to make some changes in the new year with 2 in 5 making a resolution for 2023, whereas just one in nine people (a miserly 11%) aged 55 and over will make a decisive change. Hmmmmm…..thats not adding up for us men in this age group. The “life” expectancy for change seems to be lacking or more limited – but it doesn’t have to be. The older we get, the capacity for change should still be as expectant - let’s give it a go + be all in this year, Goal!
We all have similar goals but very different results. Let us Healthy Silver Foxes start leading the way in our humble commitment, wise choices and a new hunger for change and results. Calling all Silver Foxes!
1. Don’t tolerate it
You can’t change what you are willing to tolerate – even if it is small.
Know your why and don’t let your small consistent changes derail or disassociate themselves from this bigger goal. It’s important to know why you need to change something first – for you – the who, before you can start the small, steady work to How. Your ‘who’ goal is more important than your ‘do’ goal. Who do you want to become from these small new habits?
2. Start small
Everyone always thinks that the “go big, or go home” mantra will work - forcing us to change completely as there is so much that we need to work on. This rarely is the solution. In fact it just keeps us in the same passive pattern year in and year out.
Newton’s law states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion – if the resolution or as we like to call it – the new habit, is too big then you will prefer to stay at rest for longer – delaying movement completely or burning out quickly once started, therefore cutting off the motion before its even properly begun. The stop and start pattern never gives us time to learn deep seated habits.
So, however small it might seem, small wise habits over time compound and become bigger gains. Make a small new habit today.
One of my small, but wise habits was to FLOSS!! Yes you read it correctly. It might seem miniscule, but I disliked flossing so much, now on the other hand, over a year into regular, systematic picks, sticks and tape – it has literally changed my life! Made me more disciplined and has freed me from the agro at the dentist.
Any small action will create bigger movement.
Another small change but ongoing bigger habit is that I don’t take my phone to bed, but leave it downstairs to charge. My sleep was suffering and I wanted to begin a healthier, new relationship with my z’s. “I wanted better sleep” – but how…
Big progress comes from small steps.
Try adding one habit a year or one new habit every couple of months. Those habits will build and in time cascade into other areas of your life forming who you actually are and not just what you are trying so hard to do. Suddenly you start seeing yourself as a disciplined person who commits or a healthy person who takes a 10 minute walk 3 times a week and then wants to do more…
Little steps make big productive changes.
“Do not despise these small beginnings.”
3. Make it obvious – change what you see
We are creatures of habit who ironically find it easy to create bad habits that satisfy the now, but good habits that nourish the yet to come are much trickier to sustain.
We need to think about this like a “dummies guide” to resolve and healthy habits. How?....We are prepared – make it easy to say yes to the best.
If you want to start taking vitamins – put them out the night before – right next to your tooth brush, if you want to be healthier, fill the fridge, cupboard, secret drawer with food you ‘want’ to eat, get rid of the temptation, if you want to be more focused, write a list of 3 priorities as soon as you step foot into the office, leave a notepad out, jot them down – then do them, leave your book out next to your bed, not in the drawer or under a pile.
Instead of reacting to the cues that trigger you, you can create your own positive cues that will make it easier to live out your desired intentions. “Excellence is never an accident – it is always a result of intentional and consistent habits.”
This is the difference between good intentions and great results.
4. Make it automatic
Usually we’re all on autopilot – thinking how did we even get here? – Was it the fast train or the slow one? (Sorry won’t mention the trains again!!), but seriously it’s hard to even remember your morning when it’s the afternoon already, let alone something we did yesterday.
“Without intentionality what is automatic is rarely what’s most productive – we don’t drift towards what is healthy, we drift towards what is easy.”
Make it harder to do what you don’t want to do and easier to do what you do want to do.
Simple, right?! But in time, your good habits will become automatic.
“Goals don’t determine your success but your systems/habits determine your success.” “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” James Clear – Atomic habits
Creating new systems is like building a home of habits and we believe that someday soon whole road maps of patterns and practices will spread out. We are only as good as our systems so create new ones and see health and opportunities follow.
It’s not just who you want to be and what you want to do but also when you want to do it. It is a completed system that helps you gain success.
To deal with the when, try implementing a new habit based around other routine daily tasks and you will find you are prompted more obviously and it becomes automatic.
Start with, after I _____________, I will do ___________.
After I’ve brushed my teeth at night, I’ll do a 30 second plank.
After I finish a meeting, I’ll write 3 action points.
Each right action and step forward moves you in the right direction.
5. Pressure’s off – you get the reward
Don’t put the pressure on to be perfect at your new habit. If you miss a few times don’t be hard on yourself. Changing your behaviour most of the time is a massive win – so take it! We get to the wrong places one step at a time, just as we get to the right places one step at a time – start stepping and feel good about it. Reward yourself when you’re practicing your new habit. There are grown adults that give themselves stickers (talk about great child-like practices) to chart their progress throughout the year - how many weight sessions they’ve completed, how many cardio hours they’ve clocked up. If that visual would help you – do it. The accumulation of small steps brings great reward. Remember to celebrate those victories! You’re not successful when you hit the goal, you’re successful when you start today and stay faithful at it.
Here at HSF we want to encourage you to start something big this year through one small habit. It’s the small things that no one sees, that brings the big results. “How did you do that?”, they ask. It’s not rock n’ roll, it’s more like the Waltz but this time next year you’ll be glad that you stuck to the motion.
What one habit do you need to start?