How can you be the elite 8% that succeed?
I have a few resolutions for the new year that I’d like to share with you, and then we’ll get into some of the research around how you can be part of the 8% who succeed. I will also introduce a tool to help you experiment with establishing new mental health/well-being habits – something I am always working on for myself and with my coaching and counseling clients.
I’ve whittled my 2024 goals, or (what I prefer to call them) intentions, to three; I want to establish my:
1. walking meditation,
2. writing invitation, and
3. well-being conversations.
I provide more detail about what I mean by these intentions a little later, but, for now, I’m curious what your goals, intentions, hopes, and dreams are for the new year. Post your response in the comments or email me if you’d like.
January is a great time to launch out and experiment with starting something. I’ve heard many friends and family mention new weight loss goals, better eating habits and overall fitness, which seem common. Recent research, however, puts mental health atop general health resolutions. And, as a therapist and well-being habits coach, I tend to put well-being and happiness at a higher priority as well.
But sadly, as we are all well aware, many of our greatest resolutions fall short. In fact, according to Forbes, only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions.
Forbes, however, reported what helped the high achievers:
1. They keep it simple,
2. Make it tangible,
3. Make it obvious, and
4. Keep believing they can do it.
To apply these same strategies and others to my three intentions, as an example of how this might work for you, here are ways that I am beginning to flesh this out.
First, I am trying to keep things simple, as Forbes suggests, by stating only three intentions in an alliterative and memorable way. You probably caught that my three phrases all started with ‘W’- Walk, Write and Well-being.
Regarding the ‘walking meditation’ intention – I am building on a practice I started during the pandemic. I like to spend part of the morning, 5 to 6 days a week, walking. What is different, starting January 1 (so just three days now) is that I am walking in silence for the first part of my walk. This means no phone use. Instead of listening to political news or podcasts or buying something on Amazon, I put my phone in my pocket and just walk thoughtfully. Day 3 – so far, so good. I am enjoying the crisp cold and deer-laden trails of January weather in Ohio. The second part of my walk, I want to listen to a mindfulness APP. I am using the Waking Up App for now, but there are plenty of others. I found Youtube is a great place for finding walking meditations as well. Toward the end of my hour-long walk, I will slowly ease into checking email, making calls, and getting ready for the day.
My second intention – a writing invitation – is a bit more challenging. This is something I’ve wanted to improve on the past couple of years, but it is the goal around which I have the most resistance. I have had to think more carefully, for now, about how to carve out time to make this priority a reality. One way I am making this more tangible is to have a goal of writing one blog post a week; this post is my first for the year. Day 3 of my writing invitation to myself – so far, so good. I have written for at least 30 minutes to an hour all three days. If I get my blog post done early in the week, I can start on the next week or just watch Netflix. There is a lot more to say about overcoming resistance, but that might be for another post.
The ‘well-being conversations’ piece of my 2024 goals includes something completely new for me. The essence of this intention is to reach out to friends and acquaintances and maybe even strangers to invite them into a 21-day mental health and well-being experiment with me on a monthly basis. I would like to record these conversations and challenges as a way to measure progress for myself and for those who take up the challenge with me. I’ve already purchased a domain name to start a website and will start posting to it. I am calling it www.21dayswithdrdave.com. This is also my attempt to follow the Forbes research about making it obvious. By blogging and vlogging, I am putting it out into the world, which, according to research, can help make the goal a sustained reality. Keep me accountable, though, and ask how its going….oh, and volunteer to do a 21-day experiment with me.
The last ingredient of the magic potion (I wish it were that simple) to help us stay true to our stated intentions is to keep believing we can do it. This seems like the hardest part of it for me because of that pesky resistance I face when starting to take action on a fresh dream. One of the biggest challenges I have already experienced is sabotaging self-talk like, “blogging is a stupid, worn-out idea” or “they don’t care what you have to say about goals or intentions” or “just nestle up with Netflix – much less resistance”.
These self-talk scenarios, or others you ruminate over, may be somewhat true, or, at least, seem like reasonable barriers to why you ‘shouldn’t’ try to make changes in your life, right?
Self-talk is insidious in that it lulls you into believing what you tell yourself is ‘okay’, that starting a new habit is hard, like life, and that it’s better to just veg on the couch for just a little bit longer. No harm, no foul. It’s wintertime, don’t you know, and you were meant to hibernate with Hulu in the dark, short hours of January, February, and even March.
Blah, blah, blah.
Launching something new is a battle of breaking down self-talk barriers, which gets at the core of your ability to keep believing you can do it. You need a team of cheerleaders in the form of friends and allies to keep you in the belief game; that’s why the elite 8% of those who succeed make it obvious to others what their intentions are. They assemble a team of personal avengers that remind them to keep pressing on toward the finish line.
And that’s one of the reasons I’m sharing this with you, to make it obvious and to hopefully begin to gather a group of like-minded well-being warriors who fight for their own mental health but also are willing to help keep others believing and in the game of the good life.
And that’s why I’ve created www.21dayswithdrdave.com; to challenge and support others to experiment with well-being practices, to highlight mental health tips, tools and research, and to feature conversations with friends and colleagues who are willing to step up and try a 21 day well-being challenge.