In my many encounters with people who have attempted to make changes in their lives, they seem to come to a stopping point. There is a moment where the brain recognizes that a change is necessary but the body seems to lag and the first steps are never taken. They just never get going. Part of the reason for this problem, I think, is that the change often seems so enormous that it becomes an insurmountable obstacle. People will get motivated to make a major change or overcome a major life obstacle. The next morning, however, when the motivation has waned somewhat, the excuses creep in and the train comes off the rails. It is hard to imagine changing something that has become so ingrained. This is compounded by the fact that we all want and expect change to be quick and easy (even th0ugh deep down we know this not to be true). For this reason, I am advocating that you take a different approach to lifestyle change. Instead of making major commitments that are great in theory but difficult in reality, focus on changing one thing for 30 days.
My inspiration for this new focus comes from a very interesting TED talk I saw (click the picture above to watch it). The premise is simple and, while I have no empirical evidence, I think it is a truth that if you can force yourself to do a behavior (or stop a bad habit) every day it will become a long term change after 30 days. It may be the reason for the overabundance of 30-day workout or diet routines. While I am generally opposed to the idea of too rapid or too dramatic life changes, I think there is something to the idea. If you focus on one change in your life and stick to it no matter what for 30 days you can make major changes successfully. The advantage of this method is that it is doable. You can do anything for 30 days. This takes away the obstacle created by feeling a task is too daunting. Changing forever is daunting, changing for 30 days is manageable. You’ll then find that, at the end of 30 days, keeping that change going will be something you can handle. Before you know it, the habit is broken and you no longer desire to continue the behavior. This is when the real life changes happen. After a while, you’ll look back and notice that along with the habit comes weight loss, better health, even more happiness.
So here are some suggestions for 30 day commitments you can make starting today:
1. Do some form of exercise every day for 30 days. I mean every day. If you skip a day, start the count over. My wife did this when she tried Jillian Michaels’ 30-day Shred. She was working out some nights late and some days earlier. Whatever it takes, just exercise for 30 days.
2. Cut out all sugar for 30 days.
3. Calorie count every day for 30 days.
The key is the committment. Every day for 30 days no matter what. Aren’t you tired of making plans or commitments that you can’t seem to follow through on? So find something to be successful at and succeed. It’s just 30 days. Let me know what you pick and how it works for you by leaving a note in the comments section. Good luck!