Maybe it’s happened again—you had great plans for 2020 and perhaps you started off strong, but you’ve gotten sidetracked or fallen off the wagon, and you feel like giving up. Even worse, you feel like you’ve broken a promise to yourself, and feel like a failure.  

STOP RIGHT THERE.

The fault probably doesn’t lie with you—the problem is with the resolution itself! There are reasons why it didn’t work, and they’re not lack of discipline or laziness or lack of time. A workable resolution is well-crafted and doable, and won’t fall apart in a few weeks.

How do you fix it? With Love and Micro-Steps.

Let’s start with Love and a little self-compassion:

You’re a human being, not a machine. Take a big breath and say to yourself (fill in the blank): “I know I haven’t done ___________ as I said I would. I forgive myself and accept myself completely.”

Your life is shaped by patterns and habits that have evolved over decades, and it takes more than a simple resolution to change them. Those patterns and habits exist for a variety of reasons, probably a some very good ones. To make change successfully, you need reasons that are better.

“Lose twenty pounds” or “walk 30 minutes a day” aren’t reasons. They’re just a means to an end. And even the end probably isn’t the real reason: if your goal is to look good for your daughter’s wedding or have a better checkup at your next physical, you’re getting closer, but you’re still not going deep enough. If that’s your whole purpose, then, when you’re tempted to skip, your motivation may waver.

Let’s go deeper and get real: Ask yourself WHY you want to look good at the wedding. Is it so you’ll feel really good about yourself and be more able to enjoy the event and the people? Is it so your family will be proud of you? Is losing weight really the key, or is it a distraction that will make you more self-conscious, not less?

Keep asking WHY until you get to a core belief or a personal value—something so important that it’s worth changing your life for, SOMETHING THAT TOUCHES YOUR HEART. —THAT’S YOUR STARTING POINT, YOUR “WHY”.

Maybe you want the wedding to be perfect because you love your daughter and want her to have a wonderful day. Start there, with loving her.

Or perhaps you want to get more exercise—most of us do! Is your stated reason to get your doctor off your back? Is that going to get you up off the couch on a cold winter day? 

Be (lovingly) honest with yourself: probably not. But what about having good health? That’s OK in principle, but ask let’s “WHY” again and see if we can go deeper. Is your deeper goal to live a long and happy life? Have great energy—to do what? Be able to do the things you love—what things? To be there for your children and grandchildren? What’s YOUR BIG WHY?

With your WHY in mind, think of all the different ways you could make progress toward it. There might be many, and that’s fine. List them all, then consider each one carefully: 

  • Does it fit you? 
  • Would it be enjoyable? 
  • Can you work it into your daily/weekly routine? 

Now, which one has the most appeal? That’s your WHAT. If walking 30 minutes a day seems best because you love being outside and you would look forward to listening to your favorite books or podcasts, then choose that. If not, make a new choice. 

But that’s not your resolution. The goal is to succeed! And that means taking into consideration all the little ways we get off-track. Be realistic. If getting off the couch or out of bed and hitting the pavement is going to be a challenge, then you need a different resolution. 

That’s where Micro-steps come into play. Break your WHAT into the smallest components and begin with one: Like prepping your earbuds and loading up a book, dressing for your walk, putting on your shoes, going out the door or to the treadmill, then walking around the block or for just 5 minutes, and later, when you’re ready, adding 5 minutes, then adding 5 more…  

Your resolution, your HOW, will be to “consistently take a micro-step toward my goal of ____________, so I can ________” (fill in your BIG WHY). And make it a bit flexible, so you can recover if you miss a day without feeling like you’ve failed:

“At least 5 days each week, I will take a Micro-step to get to my goal of walking 30 minutes so I can be less achey and have more energy to play with my grandchildren.”

Once you get to 30 minutes, you may find yourself adding another 5 minutes and another!

But what if your original resolution was to lose 20 pounds and you have a powerful WHY—like your health is in danger and you want to be there for those grandchildren?

Well, “lose 20 pounds” isn’t the right resolution—first, it’s a result, not a path forward, because weight is a side effect, a symptom of our lifestyle, our habits and our genetics. It’s not something we can directly control. 

Oddly, focusing on weight tends to make things worse, not better, because it distracts us from the reasons behind our habits and lifestyle, and puts more attention on food. We end up eating more, not less, and when we fall off our diet or plan, we feel that we’ve failed, give up, and often gain more weight in the end, trying diet after diet.

What IS a good resolution? Micro-steps that build a new habit that both (A) supports a healthy weight and (B) meets those 3 criteria:

  • It fits you
  • It’s enjoyable
  • It fits into your life

Diets (limiting quantity, calories, points) and plans (Keto, Whole30, Paleo, etc.) fail the first test. Research shows they fail in the long run—people almost always regain lost weight and often end up heavier than they began. Diets and plans also can take a lot of time and attention away from other things, may remove foods you love or require foods you don’t, and being on them is seldom as enjoyable as being off. These are all things that ultimately lead to failure.

What’s a better resolution? 

Become an Intuitive Eater. Intuitive Eating meets all 3 criteria under B, and study after study has shown that it supports a healthy weight better than diets do. 

Intuitive Eating checks all the boxes, and it’s built on Micro-steps!

Small changes in your thinking, short pauses in your eating, add up to greater enjoyment and long term improvements—better health and an end to yo-yo dieting. And Intuitive Eating means freedom— the freedom to eat what you want, when you want, as much as you want. Yes, really! The key is that what you want gradually changes to match your body’s needs.

IE changed my life, and has worked for thousands of people. More than 90 studies show that it leads to better results than dieting—lasting results: better health and stable weight. Listen here to a wonderful conversation with my teacher, Evelyn Tribole, who literally wrote the book on Intuitive Eating nearly 2 decades ago:

CLICK to LISTEN: Interview with Evelyn Tribole

So that’s it—Love and Micro-steps:

  • Forgive yourself (you’re human)
  • Find your deepest, most heartfelt WHY (a passion or belief)
  • Make a plan built on Micro-steps (that fit the 3 criteria)
  • Take a small step each day

Happy Valentines Day!