Yep, I have titled a post referencing 2016. Am I mad? Possibly. But, despite the popularity of the “21 day to make a habit” style challenges, studies have shown that the actual average figure to change a habit is closer to two months -66 days in fact. This brings us just past New Years Day, which is a decidedly strange thought! So, if you are keen to avoid restarting all the same-old New Year’s resolutions, now is the time to start changing what you do for the better. Be it a health goal or good practice that you want to get in to, use this 66 day window to see if you can make some changes. This time frame to develop a habit isn’t a set rule of course -depending on both yourself, and what you are aiming to begin or change, the timeframe varies from three weeks to eight months. But for our 2016 target, here are some completely manageable goals to set for the next two months:
“I will eat less meat”
Studies are showing more links between excessive animal product consumption and poor health. The biggest enemies seem to be processed meet, beef, and dairy. Whilst going completely vegetarian may be off your radar, being a little bit more conscious of your consumption will help you and the environment. Rather than take the full plunge, follow the #meatfreemonday trend, or even go veggie or vegan every other day of the week. When you do treat yourself to that grilled chicken or natural yoghurt, you will appreciate it all the more.
“I must drink more water!”
Still trying to hit your 2 litre per day target? Instead of counting out every glass that you drink, get into the habit of carrying a (metal or bpa-free!) water bottle around with you, and refilling it at least once. Having the water to hand means that it will always be there when you fancy a sip and your hydration levels will stay at an optimum.
“I need to gain/lose weight”
Saying that you need to gain and lose weight without specifying how much can be quite arbitrary. Setting yourself weekly goals, say 1-2 pounds (0.5-1kg) of weight change per week for 8 weeks is much more specific. Alongside this, set out some kind of exercise and diet plan. It doesn’t need to be really strict, but planning how often you are going to go to the gym, and to do what; and aiming to eat a certain amount of vegetables each day will keep you on track, without feeling restricted. Make sure that your goals are healthy and realistic for you.
“I will meditate… at some point”
Meditation is something we are often told to do, but few people take up the habit. Make sitting in quiet part of your nightly -or morning -routine. And don’t feel like you have to do it a specific way either. Shavasana at the end of yoga, guided meditation, counting thanks, or simply sitting and being present are all forms of meditation. The important thing is to take a few minutes out to listen to your breath and be in the moment, with limited distractions.
“I want to run a marathon”
You want to set yourself up for a big, physical challenge. Awesome! But first, you need to build up to it and train. Whatever it is you are aiming for, commit to practicing and building up your stamina or distance several times a week. Get involved in smaller versions of what you are trying to do -say a 10k run, and then a half marathon, and then the full thing. This gets you used to “big day” feelings and of course, is excellent practice. The more you practice, the more you will enjoy your challenge, which is so important. Don’t forget to cross train to avoid injury, and especially consider yoga as a key part of this. The stretching and work on all your small stabilising muscles is so good for keeping your body able to cope with big challenges. Aside from that, jump right on in and take on the challenge -you can do it!!
I challenge you to make yourself one habit or goal to focus on developing over the next two months and see where it take you. It really doesn’t have to be big, just go for something manageable that will make you feel like you have accomplished something this autumn. Good luck!