Monday, January 7, 2013

Resolve to Create a Habit of Change

It feels bizarre that I haven’t yet written a blog post about setting goals for the 2013. I mean come on. This whole blog is about goal setting and measuring achievement and reaching beyond your limits to be a better person. 

I am a true slacker. Or not really.

Photo by LJR; request permission before using.
Really goal setting takes time and while the end of the year and the beginning of the next offers us a chance to renew commitments and dream of bigger, better things, I have seen the YMCA syndrome before.

You have, too, if you’ve ever been a faithful (summer months, too!) member of a gym. The very first week day after the holidays the YMCA is PACKED. You have to wait for a treadmill. You discover there’s not a bike for you in spin class. You notice several new people bulging out of their swim suits in the lap lane.

By February these New Year’s Resolutionists have faded from everything except the automatic dues deduction process.

The point is that anyone can start over on January 1. The best thing to combat the blues after the holiday season is passion about a new chance to be Better Than You’ve Ever Been.

And millions of people and thousands of bloggers and hundreds of fitness experts and several dozen well-meaning dieticians are telling you exactly how to do that.

But not here. No sir. Not on Clemson Road.

If you haven’t been setting goals all along and holding yourself accountable then you haven’t been paying attention.

It’s what we do here.

Photo by LJR Request permission before use.
The best way to change is to change by habit. Create a habit of starting things, a habit of finishing things, a habit of trying things, and a habit of change will emerge.

Be it the beginning of the school year, the beginning of a new month, any given Monday or January first, there are hundreds of arbitrary days to “begin” just about anything.

Likewise, there are a million things to start, to finish, to try.

Start sewing, learn to play the violin, try a foreign language, start saving for a Hawaiian vacation, work on toning your upper body, try getting pregnant, write a new story, write a new novel, write a new poem, try to get published, try to run a mile, start a book club, start a wine club, meet new people, invite people to your house, redecorate a room, reorganize your refrigerator.

Stop agreeing to do things you don’t want to do. Stop pretending to like things you don’t like. Throw out something that’s broken that you haven’t repaired in over a year. Stop pretending you’ll fix it. Just replace it. Or better, since you’ve been living without it, just keep living without it.

Just do something.

Do something that is going to make life a little bit better after it’s done, that takes time away from reality TV and puts it into family, fitness, friends, or your future. It can be something so little it hardly seems to matter: remove all the plastic cups from your cabinets and enforce use of glassware not Death Valley china.
Cups collected from Death Valley and "repurposed"

The problem with most resolutions and New Year’s goals is that people aim too high. You don’t have to change your life. If it was that bad you wouldn’t have made it this far. You want things to be different? It’s easy. Get comfortable with change.

To be comfortable with change you have to create a habit of change. That habit starts with making very small changes in a consistent and committed way. Smile at yourself while you brush your teeth. Look in the mirror and tell yourself one thing you like about your body.

Every day. Something small.

This fall I started writing Morning Pages as prescribed by Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write. I can’t do it every day, my blog readers know I suck at daily habits. But I write them as often as I can. It’s a new habit. A habit I picked up because I wanted to change how I processed complex emotions. Now I write at them.

Make one small change each day and by the end of 2013 you may find your life transformed. Otherwise you may just be seeing YMCA deductions on your bank statement and plastic cups on your dining room table.

Got any ideas of small changes you can make today that will help you start a habit of change?


  1. i wrote a blog awhile back about complacency and how it kills me. that seems to be what you're saying, too. i like your comment about how you don't have to change your life because you're getting by. good point. but i'm with you. i like to follow through with my plans!

    1. Thanks for coming by, Bolton. I don't understand people who hate change. I am invigorated by it! But I think I got used to it a long time ago. Besides, who wants to just "get by"?

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mel. Maybe the New Year's post took so long because it needed polish ;-)

  3. I love Morning Pages! I don't do them every day anymore, but always am invigorated and inspired when I do. Great post, Kasie.

    1. Thanks, Barbara! Glad to see you here on Clemson Road. Morning Pages were a big change for me. I am not very good at daily routines. But I have found the habit to be incredible for my mental well being and my writing habit.

  4. Morning pages... I am back doing them again but they seem to be my enemy. Well, it is a love/hate relationship. I think they are great and on some days they are great motivation to me. Then there are the days that I sit and think that I have nothing to say. Hard to believe that I could have nothing to say....

    1. Ha! Good to see the Nine Inch Plate on Clemson Road! I agree about the love/hate relationship. Truly, though, if I do something other than list what happened yesterday and plan today, they can be invigorating. If I only journal or plan they feel like a waste of precious time.

  5. I love the idea of trying something new! You and I discussed several new things for me, your momma, to try in 2013. I have always been one to jump into the new year with both feet and then gradually step back as the new routine became routine and boring. This year I have decided to take baby steps and make one small change at a time. I have always been a list maker and love the sense of accomplishment when I can mark off something on the list. For 2013 the list will consist of little acts which make a difference in someone else's life each day. Thanks for always being an inspiration to me and to others! You are truly a remarkable woman and I am very proud of you!

    1. Thanks, mom! It's great to be purposeful about change. To identify what you want and then pursue it means you're controlling your own destiny. It's empowering and creates inertia that can carry you through the toughest things.

      I'm always so grateful for your love and support. **MU--AH!**

  6. You are absolutely correct, kasie. No need to try huge things as resolutions because otherwise, we're setting ourselves up for failure. I like the idea of trying new things and focusing on habits. With the change of habits comes new behaviors and ultimately, a better lifestyle. Well done.

    1. Thanks, Amanda. I'm a big believer in every day change. Being adaptable means expecting different circumstances and adjusting. You can only get good at that with practice.


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