It was so exciting to spend New Year’s Eve in NYC this year! While I did NOT stand with roughly 1 million people in Times Square in the 25 degree weather to watch the ball drop, I did get to see the whole area in its before and after states.
The before state wasn’t all that bad. There were tons of barricades everywhere and NYPD’s finest were out en masse at every corner. The streets were in their typical “clean” state, so there was some trash but not all that much.
However as I walked home at about 2am on January 1st, the picture was pretty different. The barricades were being picked up, and there were still plenty of cops out. The trash situation though was VERY different. There was confetti EVERYWHERE and garbage all over the place.
The garbage was piling up in the stairs for the subway’s entrance, all over the sidewalks and blowing down the street. It was food bags and cups, beer cans and bottles, and plastic bags and food containers from any restaurant you can think of.
It was pretty astonishing the amount of trash that people left on the street.
Even more astonishing though was what I saw when I went to the corner market about 6 hours later….
The city looked normal again!! The barricades were gone, the number of cops out was back to normal, and all the trash was gone!
I learned later on the news that crews had spent the early hours of 2014 cleaning up 50 MILLION POUNDS of TRASH! That’s a whole lotta garbage picked up super super fast.
Seeing all the garbage and how quickly it was cleaned up got me thinking about how we tend to perceive the holidays and New Year’s resolutions, in general.
We guilt about how we indulged in treats and drinks and skipping workouts during the holidays.
Because of this guilt, we feel bad and want to get “back on track” as quickly as possible and clean up the trash in our lives.
So what do we do? We overhaul everything in our life at all once via New Year’s resolutions - what we eat, how we’re working out, how we budget/spend our money, etc etc etc – we change it all.
I call this the “pre-season perspective”.
In order to completely overhaul so many aspects of your life, you’d have to have a pre-season perspective where you do nothing but think about the things you’re trying to change.
The problem is that we’re not on a team anymore where we have the luxury of quitting everything else in our life while we get our eating on track or while we re-ignite our gym routine.
We can’t put all our energy to these new habits anymore cause we also have families, jobs, friends, and a myriad of other demands on our willpower.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t have more than 1 goal for the year.
I am suggesting that you take a strategic approach to accomplishing those goals for the year.
If you’ve signed up for my email newsletter (did you know you get a free gift when you sign up that includes a workout, a meal plan, and stress reducing tips??), you know that I’m all about focusing on making one change in your life at a time.
Why is this? The research shows that when you focus on making a single change in your life (i.e. incorportating 1 new habit), the chance that you’ll successfully implement the change is around 80%! Those are some damn good odds!!
Interesting thing is, when you try to incorporate two changes at once that are both new to you (like 2 New Year’s resolutions), the chances that you’ll actually create a habit for either one drops to 30%.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, just stop reading. [No no, don't do that. The point is, that should reeeeeally make you think about how you go about making big changes in your life.]
Here are some examples of how to successfully implement common New Year’s resolutions.
Resolution: I want to eat better.
Steps to success
-Start with observing/recording everything you eat and drink for one week. Don’t make any changes, just observe.
-Pick 1 meal to change. Maybe swap your sandwich at lunch for a salad, fast for 12 hours overnight (don’t eat from 8pm-8am), instead of cereal make a protein shake for breakfast, eat mainly lean protein and veggies at dinner, etc.
-Do that single action/swap till you’re doing it without really thinking about it, until it’s effortless. This could take a few weeks, so be patient with yourself.
-Add the next change (different meal, more water, extra veggies at a meal, snacking on veggies and nuts instead of chips or crackers, etc.). Keep making changes in this way until you’re eating the way you want to be eating and that works for YOU.
Resolution: I’m gonna workout more.
Steps to success
-Start with observing – how often are you working out now each week?
-Schedule an additional 1-2 days working out at most, and pick an activity you like to do. If you don’t know what you like to do, you could sign up for classes to try something out for a few weeks. You could also try the workouts in my GET SMART workout program. It’s 4 weeks worth of workouts that need minimal equipment (read: no gym membership). Check it out here!
-Workout these extra days for a few weeks until it’s easy and it doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.
-At this point, add another day or a different type of workout until that becomes effortless, too. Continue making changes this way until you’ve got the workout schedule you like and will do!
So before you decide to adopt the pre-season perspective and go all-out to clean up the figurative 50 million pounds of trash overnight, step back and take a moment to pick the most important thing to you. Work on that change first.
Leave a comment below with what you decide to focus on changing first!