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Lessons from Literature: Atomic Habits by James Clear

As we move into the New Year, many people set goals or resolutions. Some people are pro-New Years Resolution, others are in-different, and some are opposed, even strongly opposed. I think whether you do or don't, is a personal decision. Meaning, it's NOT for me or anyone else to decide what's right for you.

If you have trouble setting realistic goals and resolutions, if you have trouble making a plan, or if you have trouble being accountable, ask for help. There are many resources and professionals to help you successfully achieve your goals. Having said that, shop around to find the best resources and support people for you, today. You may have worked with certain resources and professionals in the past and if they are still in alignment with you today and with where you are going, great! If not, there are resources and professionals out there to help you based on where you are now and where you're looking to go.

I don't think the New Year needs or should mark when we reset or re-evaluate our lives. If this is something you do, it could be any day of the year, but if you like the idea of starting your annual cycle on January 1st, why not? It's just as good of a day as any. The concept of planting the seed of intention in the cold and dark winter leading to a fresh new start in spring is kind of poetic. Whenever that first day is for you, I hope that when you do set intentions, goals, or resolutions and when you start new (hopefully healthy) habits, that you take the time to make sure it's what you want and not what you've been told to want. I hope that you have a plan with realistic steps for you to take to achieve your goal/intention/resolution. I encourage you decide on the life you want to live, the person you want to show up as every day, and work towards that. Who are the people you want in your life, what makes you feel good to the core of your being? What makes you have a good laugh? What activities do you love? E.g. Dancing, singing, running, painting, pottery, playing with your kids, spending time with a pet, enjoying a home cooked meal. If you've watched the Disney movie, 'Soul,' you could ask yourself, what is your spark? Or what are your sparks? What lights you up? What makes you feel good? What makes you smile inside and out? If we can take the time to appreciate the spark(s) in our life, how great would that feel!? It might be as simple as taking a breath and admiring the sun set or taking 5 minutes to enjoy your morning coffee. Personally, it's those little things that make life meaningful!

Once you know what you want your life to look like, then you can apply the great strategies shared by James Clear in, Atomic Habits: An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones. James has great strategies to help you to create and maintain healthy habits.

Reminders when creating habits:

  • Start with what's realistic and manageable for you today.

  • Tracking your progress can be valuable, especially in the beginning. If you're working out or trying to eat healthier, you might track things like: how you feel emotionally, how much energy you have, and how your clothes fit. You can review your progress weekly, monthly, or when you're feeling like nothing is changing. If you've been consistent with your new habit, you may notice somedays are harder than others but you will likely notice a positive trend in how you feel emotionally, energetically, and physically-often you'll start to notice that your clothes feel better.

  • Habit stacking is great! I've stacked habits for years, not realizing it had a name but no matter, adding something new to something you're already doing makes life so much easier!

  • Start small, no matter how silly you might think it is. It can be incredibly powerful strategy! If you can be consistent with a 1 minute a day habit, that will build over time. The little things matter. Just like telling the people you love, that you love them and appreciate them. That small gesture goes a long way, for both of you.

  • Consistency is key! That's what makes a habit. That's what makes change. Whether it's what you intentionally worked towards or not. What you do consistently will show up mentally, emotionally, energetically, and physically. If you are sedentary, consistently, you will remain and possibly become more sedentary. If you walk daily, you will at least maintain your ability and likely gain some endurance overtime. If you want to get stronger and gain more endurance you will need to challenge yourself more. That might be, increasing your walk time by one minute each week. Over the course of a year you've gained 52 minutes of endurance and strength for walking. If you did 1 squat or 1 push up per day, that's 365 per year! If you did 10 per day, that's 3650 per year! If you did 1-10 squats every day, you'd probably find that if you stopped doing that 1-10 squats per day, that you'd feel less strong within a few months. If you only did one stretch per day, preferably a different stretch every day, your body would feel better and within a few months you'll probably notice that you feel better physically and mentally.

Take the time to discover, who you truly are, what you want, what's important to you, and what your sparks are, then you can create the right healthy habits for you. If you need help creating healthy habits, read or listen to Atomic Habits by James Clear. If you follow his advice, you can create the life you want, over time.

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