Are you one of those people that choose a word that is supposed to be your focal point for the year? For most, it's a word like "patience" or "health" and is intended to help them grow at something they don't feel they have enough of. I've never done this, but always looked lovingly on those that do and share freely. When they name a single word and put their energy toward it, there is a new or renewed strength and intention behind their actions.
I'm guessing that it's like most new year's resolutions - some stick and some don't. When it's a temporary thing with no real actionable steps, it only lives as long as the immediate problem lives. But, when it's wrapped in actions and support systems, it can be a real game-changer.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Largely driven by a gradual and growing return to a more healthy lifestyle, and kinda-sorta driven by my doctor's nudge to get my cholesterol under control. I've had high cholesterol since I was 16. Literally every person in my family has high cholesterol. There is very little hope that it will ever be 'good.' But, it can certainly be better than it is. The doctor says I can work on it with exercise or I can take medicine. I hate medicine. I'd rather exercise - which is saying a LOT!
I'm taking a bit of a different approach to this change than I typically do. Normally, I launch headfirst into any challenge that comes at me. However, history has shown me that with exercise, I burn out quickly and it's not sustainable. Backtrack to six months ago when I started a new program to help me make better choices with my eating - it's all about creating small habits that build upon each other SLOWLY that make a real difference over time. It's not about fast results, which can be frustrating for someone like me. It is about long-term results that matter, and it's working for me. So, I will take this same approach with my exercise. I am working with a coach who is helping me do this well and with lots of support.
In addition to building systems and stacking habits that make a real, sustainable difference, I am educating myself. I'm currently in LOVE with this book - Atomic Habits, by James Clear. Whether it's exercise, better parenting, financial, etc...the book teaches the reader how to build habits that last. Its core principle is that our habits are a reflection of who we are. For me, in this case, it means that I need to first understand myself as "a healthy person," then align my habits with this identity. I can only read a couple of chapters at a time because the information is so rich and my small mind can only be blown so many times before it can't retain any more information.
All of this to say - I have a word for 2020! My word is HABITS. It's an odd word because it's not soft and touchy-feely. For me, that's important. I need my word to be something that is measurable and trackable. For now, I am building habits that support my "healthy person" identity, but I imagine I will build on this new mantra with other areas of my life too. Ultimately, I want my daily habits/routines/systems to align with my identity. I want to be intentional and focused. I want to do this because when my habits align with my identity, I will be a better version of myself.
Of course, as with most things in life, we crave people to join our journey. It helps to have a community that supports one another. If you have a word or want to jump on the bandwagon of "habits," let me know - let's share our journey with one another!
1. Coaching - I am using a coach to learn better eating and exercising habits. I would HIGHLY recommend this system and this coach - learn more at www.livingwellcohort.com. While they focus on ministry leaders, they do work with all people. Reach out to them to start a conversation.
2. Book - Atomic Habits, by James Clear https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits