The holiday season is full of cheer, gift wrapping, hot cocoa, and a familiar playlist of Christmas carols. One such popular song, “Winter Wonderland,” was written in 1934 and has since been recorded by over 200 artists. The song mostly references winter’s charms like sleigh bells, snowmen, and the thrilling chill in the air. If you listen closely to the words of the holiday tune you will notice that one verse in particular feels a bit out of place. It stands out from the bubbly imagery of winter. It speaks to one of the biggest challenges of the holiday season and life at large:
“To face unafraid / the plans that we’ve made”
Even in the midst of the holidays we too have made numerous plans and overbooked ourselves to the extent that we might now be timid about our agendas. Or perhaps we have cleared our plates of responsibility and must find the resolve to enjoy down time without a whirring voice in the back of our minds telling us about all the things we ought to be doing instead of relaxing. Whatever your situation, finding the ability to thrive instead of survive can be tricky business.
One way that people commonly quell anxiety about the holidays and the upcoming new year is by setting a New Year’s resolution. I’m shocking you with this breaking news. About 50% of us will set a resolution. Unfortunately, research shows that 88% of all resolutions set on New Year’s fail. Ouch. The failure rate is so high because of the way people proclaim their goals. Lucky for you, success is within reach if you do the following…
Instead of focusing on a big, lofty goal such as “I want to lose 20 lbs.,” commit yourself to a simple, concrete routine. For example: “I will do my best to go to the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays” or “I will attempt to better control my meal portions by substituting certain calorie dense foods with filling vegetables at lunch and dinner.”
Focus your energy on a routine instead of a goal. This will ensure that you take action rather than sit back and stress over a lack of progress or fear that you won’t be able to attain the high standards that you have set for your future self. As a fitness professional, I have seen time and time again that when people set large goals for themselves, without also creating healthy routines, they get lost in a spiral of frustration and fear. People miss personal training sessions, avoid the gym, and sometimes even gain weight, all because of anxiety over how to achieve their goals.
Fear not. Over time, routines become habitual. According to research it takes approximately 66 days on average for an action to become a habit. This really isn’t too terribly long. It’s worth committing yourself to. Your new healthy habit will become an anchor that keeps you on track. It provides the powerful root structure from which you can grow additional positive benefits and behaviors. The daily choice to engage in this action is the way you consistently recommit to your goals. Thanks to the power of habits we need not fear “all the plans that we’ve made.” This year, there will be no stopping us.
Yours in health and wellness,