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Small Moves, Big Change

By Gretta Monahan

You know how it goes. Every January you lay out a long and ambitious list of big ol’ changes you intend to make in your life—everything from quitting smoking to dropping 4 sizes to getting a new job. And just as predictably, every year they fail by the end of January. You’re not alone; Experts say that more than 90% of all resolutions go kaput within just weeks of making them.

So here are a few things I try to do to keep that from happening.

For starters, let’s adjust our mental approach just a little. Instead of calling them “resolutions,” let’s call them “Plans for the year.” Just that one little switch puts me in a mindset to accomplish something, and makes me think of those goals as more definite and solid, instead of something to just toss away as soon as they require a little patience and hard work.

Which brings me to the most important change in approach of all: Instead off setting myself up to fail with huge resolutions that will be ultimately doomed, I take them in baby steps that are incredibly reasonable and easy to achieve.

For example:

Instead of making a huge and vague resolution like, “I want to get back into shape,” just make it a goal for the year to move for 10 minutes more every day than you have been. Ten minutes of walking around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or getting off the bus just one stop early is healthier than ten minutes of inactivity. It all adds up!

Instead of a huge and vague resolution like, “Get more sleep,” make it a goal to plan a bedtime. Then prepare for 30-60 minutes ahead by relaxing with a cup of tea, reading, or taking a bath.

Instead of a huge and vague resolution like, “Get better skin,” make a point of drinking plenty of water. So many people think that washing your face as often as possible is the silver bullet to a great complexion, but the key is actually achieving the right combo of hydration and moisture. So wash at night to clean your pores, but don’t strip the skin of its natural oils by washing too much. And drink up the H20—it makes such a huge difference.

Instead of a huge and vague resolution like, “Succeed in my career,” make it a point to arrive at your job every day a teensy bit early, better prepared for the day. By that, I mean just show up 10 minutes early, and then 10 minutes early for every meeting. It will reduce your stress levels, and give you a few minutes to review what you want to accomplish in each task, and in turn that will also boost your confidence.

And instead of a huge and vague resolution like, “Be nicer to people,” just try to remember whenever possible to commit a tiny act of kindness to someone who needs it—whether it’s a compliment to your colleague or a thank-you hug to your babysitter for doing a great job. Kindness is like all of the above goals: Little by little, it all adds up.