Like many, I’m terrible at New Year’s resolutions. I’m great for a day, a week, and sometimes even two weeks, but then life gets busy and everything I’ve resolved to do just falls by the wayside. The older I get the more my resolutions revolve around eating healthier, exercising, and of course, losing weight (by the way, two thumbs down for those slower metabolisms that age brings us). I’m not making excuses (okay, maybe I am), but one of the biggest things that derails me is that January is basically the worst month of the year for feeling your best. In Birmingham it’s cold, dreary, sometimes icy, and who wants to start Couch to 5K when the weather is so yucky?
But, fall. Oh, glorious fall. Birmingham has the best fall season. I grew up in Florida where fall is basically summer with a breeze every once in a while. But when I moved to Birmingham for college a decade ago (how?!), the fall became my absolute favorite.
A lot of people associate springtime with newness, and truly that makes a lot of sense with flowers and such. But for me, fall represents a season of new beginnings. You see, my husband and I started dating in the fall of 2010. Then, two years later, on the very same date that he’d asked me to be his girlfriend, we got married. A year after that, we bought our first home in the fall, and then, on our fourth wedding anniversary (sixth dating anniversary), our daughter was born.
You can see why I just get giddy over this season and why it’s historically meant new beginnings for me … in life, in love, and in family. So, given how much I love this time of year, I’ve decided to trade my failed attempts at New Year’s resolutions for creating new habits in the fall.
Here are three guidelines that I’ve used in this endeavor:
- KISS. Keep It Simple,
StupidSilly, is the name of the game when it comes to creating new habits. For me, this is synonymous with Keep It Attainable, but KIA is a car brand and I didn’t want to confuse anyone. I’ve started small with the new habits I want to build, like making my bed in the morning and working out before I start my day. Another little one is that I’m trying to drink green smoothies when I’m at home during lunch to add more veggies into my diet. Will any of these new habits completely alter the trajectory of my life? Probably not. But that’s okay because they’re each small, reasonable things that I can actually do regularly. And let’s face it, getting disciplined about a few small habits never hurt anyone.
- Just do it. Okay, I’m really into the slogans right now. But seriously, just start somewhere. I love a clean slate, so I love the beginning of the week or the first of the month, but if I’m always waiting for Monday to come around, I’m missing six great opportunities to begin making new habits. When I think of something that I want to start doing consistently, like making my bed in the morning, I’ve vowed to just start doing it right then and go from there.
- Just keep doing it. Experts say that it takes roughly 21-66 days to form a new habit, depending on the intensity of the habit. That means that if I want to get into the habit of making my bed everyday, I basically need to do it for the rest of the year to really, truly make it stick. In the big scheme of life, what is two months? I’ve done a lot of weird stuff like give up soda for far longer than that. And 21 days is nothing. So basically, if I put in a few months worth of work, I’ll have created some really awesome habits that add to the efficiency and cleanliness of my life and my family.
It’s all a lot easier said than done, I’m sure, but I think that I have a much greater chance of success conquering these little habits on this side of Christmas while things aren’t as crazy. Plus, who doesn’t love tackling a to-do list when the weather feels fantastic, football season is in full swing, and everyone’s pulling out their cutest boots? Count me in, I’m ready.
What has helped you successfully form new habits? Share your tips in the comments!