The past year, for many of us, interrupted our daily routines, challenged our expectations, and forced us to find ways to adapt, all while feeling like an emotional roller coaster. Now, a month into 2021, many of us are looking towards the future and making resolutions with the hopes of leading a healthier life. Of course, if you’ve already made your resolutions there’s a good chance you might have found some difficulty in sticking to them. If that’s where you find yourself right now, then rest assured, you are not alone.
Studies have shown that less than 25% of people stay committed to their resolutions after 30 days, and only 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. So how can we stand apart from that statistic and make lasting changes for ourselves?
One way we can accomplish the resolutions or goals that we set, is to focus on forming sustainable and consistent habits. Habits are the best way to accomplish our goals and make a lasting difference in our lives. In his New York Times bestselling book, Atomic Habits, author James Clear explains the differences between creating good habits and discontinuing bad ones, as well as the misalignment of immediate and long-term goals. When we set goals for ourselves we should focus on consistency, making sure that we're not expecting too much too quickly. Often, when it comes to making resolutions, we tend to focus on short term fixes to problems instead of examining the root cause and finding a sustainable solution.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
We love this quote and image from Clear's book, that each time you make your bed in the morning or adjust your posture while you’re sitting in front of the computer, you are casting a vote for who you want to be. Although each habit might not seem very effective on its own, by continuing to build on these habits, we improve their effect over time. The graph below is from Clear's website and illustrates that, even with an improvement rate that might feel insignificant, over time your results increase. Even if you're only improving by 1% every day, after a year of maintaining your habit you will have improved by 37.78%.
Clear's book, and his theories regarding habits, remind us of functional medicine and the lasting benefits it can have in a person’s life. With functional medicine the goal is to find a sustainable and a lasting solution, one in which the benefits can be felt for years rather than just a few weeks. We take time to address the root causes of an issue, rather than look for a quick fix to manage symptoms. By making lifestyle changes, educating yourself about your body’s overall health, and taking care of underlying issues, you are casting votes to become a healthier individual now and in the future.
So let’s make a plan that this year to not get stuck making resolutions that have the potential to add stress or make us feel bad about ourselves down the road, instead let’s focus on consistent habits that will lead to a healthy and sustainable life that we want for ourselves.