noun: a firm decision to do or not to do something.
verb: make or become different; transform.
We're three days into 2014. How's your firm decision to do or not do something going? Yeah. That's what I thought. New Year's seems to be the only time that we humans make resolutions. The rest of the year we try to change. Couldn't people make resolutions at other times in the year? Probably. But even then such a firm noun has little chance of sustainability in the ebb and flow of our lives.
So let's take a lesson from our dogs. Let's make a concerted effort, beyond a concrete declaration one special day, night, week, month or season to fundamentally transform. And let's take it slow. One day at a time, like our dogs do. Let's try waking up each morning and saying "I'm going to potty outside." Well, maybe not that. But just one simple thing. Then after that
Human habit change is a very complex process. I learned a lot about it in my days as a personal trainer. And the bottom line is that firm, set-in-stone resolutions do not work. We just set ourselves up for failure, year after year. A better course of action is to resolve to change. Change itself is an action word and it allows for gradual transformation. Taking gradual actions towards a larger goal means you can celebrate successes and your eventual change is more likely to be permanent. Even those lists of little goals that will get you to your big resolution can be discouraging. You might never get there. Partly because the ultimate resolution goal may change while you take the steps to get there.
Here's an example of the power of change*: I resolved to lose weight. I planned to accomplish this by walking everyday. And so I did. I walked everyday for a month. In that month I lost no weight and I didn't feel like I was in any better shape. So I quit. But I had been sort of successful. I managed to walk everyday. I walked when I didn't feel well or the dogs didn't want to go. Yet I didn't feel accomplished because I was still over weight. What if my desire to change had involved only walking everyday? (That's all the dogs cared about!) Maybe my resolution should have been to walk everyday. Period. No speed. No time. No distance. Just walk. Everyday. What if I just said "I will walk everyday" and go out in the cold and in the rain, late at night or early in the morning and walk everyday. It's so simple (sort of) and attainable... and it feels great! Then "walk everyday" is still what I am doing six weeks, six months, and six years later. My goal is no longer about losing weight but walking as many Cascadian marathons as I can. All from simply committing to walk everyday.
It takes more than just a firm decision to change a habit. This is another fact that is easily observable in our dogs. With commitment, patience, love and celebrations for even the tiniest
*This is a true story.