If diets don’t work, and resolutions to exercise more will likely drop off before February, is there any point in making plans for the year in the early days, when everything seems new? It can seem quite daunting when thinking about what can we do to care for our physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Big transformational changes aren’t as good as small, cumulative ones
Firstly, a, the idea of making a big change and expecting it to stick is just not feasible. While I would love to be an adventurer like the Curvy Kili Crew, training to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in March 2019, I know that right now I don’t have the time or money to make that happen.
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Sharing more photos from Portland because it was SUCH an amazing weekend. The crew is on our own for training for a while but we've got one more group training weekend planned for January. The perfect time to practice our cold weather hiking and to test out all of our layers! 📸: @travelfearlessly @km_mac17 and @fatgirlforthefitsoul #curvykilicrew #portlandoregon #optoutside
In that way, I’ve chosen to make small but cumulative changes to my lifestyle. For example, a few years ago, my partner and I made a decision during January to avoid eating meat on Mondays. At the time it needed quite a bit of research on our parts to find tasty dishes that were filling and didn’t just taste like a meal with the meat removed. Once we did that part, we found that we really enjoyed vegetarian eating – and now we tend to avoid eating meat during the entire workweek.
Failure is always an option
In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck argues that people who stop trying when they fail are much less likely to succeed in improving their potential. For example, if you are working towards a goal of going on a hike once a fortnight, and you miss one, you have a choice. You can either see yourself as having failed your goal, which means you don’t need to try anymore because you see a failure as an end point, rather than a starting point. People who examine the reason why they didn’t succeed, and use that to motivate them to succeed next time, are more likely to do much better.
Part of this process is forgiving yourself for making mistakes. You are a human and make mistakes sometimes – we all do. Take a breath, think about what happened, and what you can change for next time. You have got this!
Habit change is possible
If you do have a habit you’d like to stop, or a new one you’d like to start, it’s absolutely possible – but not as simple as we’d like to think. Charles Duhigg’s book the Power of Habit outlines a three step neurological process to habit formation and change – Cue, Reward and Routine. That is, we look at what reminds us to do the desired behaviour, how we reward ourselves for doing the behaviour, and the routine itself – the behaviour, is actually the least important part of getting the habit to stick!
Instead of Resolutions, try a New Year Goal instead
For a few years now, I’ve been making goals rather than resolutions. And not just any goals, either. I’ve been making SMART goals – that is, goals that are:
So what does that look like in real life?
OK, so this year, I, like many Escapees, will be making hiking goals for the year. But rather than say something vague like, “I’d like to hike regularly”, I can make this more SMART.
Specific, I need to be clear about the WHAT kind of hiking I want to do. So I’ve updated my goal to be “I would like to do day hikes, as well as overnight ones and my first multi-day hike.”
Measurable, my hiking goals are pretty clear – its not that important for me to go on a hike of a specific length, so I’m going to measure my hikes on whether I did them or not.
Achievable, I need to consider if I can physically do all that hiking! While we are often capable of a lot more than we think we are, setting goals that we know we are capable of allows us to succeed. The good news is, of course, that we can build on that progress for future goals!
Realistic, I need to consider what barriers might lie in my way. It might be lack of time, as I have quite a few commitments, or a need to purchase or hire specific gear, such as a new hydration bladder. You might find that you need to ask for help – your partner, friends and family are often really motivated to help you succeed, so give it a go!
Time Related – is this a goal for the whole year of 2019? For the next three months, and then you’ll reassess? Make sure there’s an end time on it – this provides urgency. Don’t stress about not meeting it – if you come to the end of your goal period and don’t achieve your goal, remember that failure is always an option and assess what happened, and consider what you might want to do differently next time.
Finally, and not included in the SMART mnemonic, but is absolutely useful is the need to take time to reassess how you are going with your goal. Having done work towards it, have you found its not specific enough? Maybe you weren’t realistic with your goal and it needs to be revised.
So, lets put my hiking goal into SMART terms.
“I will do one day hike of at least 10km in length a month, one overnight hike every three months and complete my first multi-day hike by the end of November 2019. I’ll check in on my progress every three months to make sure my goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound.”
And finally, but most importantly: your success or otherwise at your goals or resolutions – regardless of when you make them and why – does not determine your inherent worth. You are worthy of love and respect all the time. Even when you’re not at your best.
Is one of your goals for 2019 to meet awesome women and gender diverse folks, go on amazing adventures and have heaps of fun along the way? Join us on one of our upcoming hikes or adventures using one of the links below!
Canberra – Facebook
Sydney – Facebook
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