The Power Of Small Resolutions For A Healthier New Year

New Year’s resolutions are generally easier to break than to keep, but that’s likely because we make our resolutions too big. Grand intentions may require humble goals.

It’s easy to break a sturdy, six-inch long twig with our hands, and quite easy to break the remaining three-inch halves in two. Most of us can then split the remaining inch and half lengths, but thereafter snapping the twig pieces becomes more difficult—until finally they are too short to divide by hand.

Small and Consistent

As with tiny twig bits, we can make our resolutions for the coming year so short (or small) they are not easy to break. This means:

  • Instead of resolving to manage our diabetes “better” this year, we decide to call our eye doctor, or dentist during the first week in January, and set up an appointment.
  • Rather than promising to get in shape, we can choose to take a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood on Saturday mornings, or to complete three simple yoga stretches after brushing our teeth each morning (or night).
  • In lieu of revamping our diet we might buy some stevia powder and use a pinch to sweeten our coffee instead of sugar, or aim to find one new veggie we actually enjoy eating.

Smaller resolutions are more likely to be kept because they do not evoke the anxiety and resistance that broad goals do. Tiny intentions allow us to tiptoe past our fears and inertia—and if we perform small, positive actions consistently they soon gel into feel-good habits. When something feels good, we tend to increase it, or build on it, and soon our quality of life and health improves.

Instigating Change

Sometimes life requires us to take leaps of faith, and personal dreams that inspire can take us far. What we struggle with are the “shoulds,” those changes we know are in our best interest, but we prefer not to make. Yet, when our actions are small enough, we instigate change by fooling ourselves into thinking life is going on as before.

It’s wise then to assume that if a resolution is made and broken it was too big to begin with, and there is no shame in that. Simply make the goal smaller, knowing that every completed action, no matter how minuscule, encourages us to take others.

Inspired by: Maurer, Robert; One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, Workman Publishing Co., 2004.

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