January brings heaps of optimism and enthusiasm about the Year ahead with new goals and resolutions. Nothing is more common that seeing hordes of enthusiasts line up at the Gym beginning of the year, and for most, it takes a few weeks or 1-2 months before the cheer wears away and resolutions are forgotten.
I have never tied resolutions to the beginning of the year. I have always been my own competitor trying to grow beyond myself building a better version of myself, one day, and one month at a time.
A better approach to making resolutions and keeping up with them is to break them down into a monthly cadence by trying out different resolutions 1 each month. 30 days is good enough to make or break a habit. Start is what makes most people stop. 30 days of trying to build a habit, has a higher stickiness, a better chance of success & satisfaction as compared to 1-2 massive resolutions at the beginning of the year.
2016 has been a tumultuous year for me – especially the last 3 months – in Oct, I successfully hiked 84 miles to Mt. Everest Base Camp, in Nov my first book got published (I wrote 6 chapters of the book – starting in Jan 2016 – 1 Chapter a Month), a Big Data Analyst training course I developed for Experfy and in Dec 2016, I lost my father.
Inspite of all these happenings in 2016 both at personal and professional level there were some habits, I inculcated month by month. Most of the habits have been simple adjustments each making a small difference to my lifestyle. The mantra is been to try small resolutions at a monthly frequency.
What I did was not important but how I approached them was a lesson. Some of the things I did included:
– Stairmaster every day for 20 minutes – as part of training for the hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I did it for 30 days non-stop every day – week/weekend whether I was feeling tired or lazy – I just did it and I was amazed at the results after that. Now, even if I don’t do it for a week or two – I am fine, since my body, mind has adapted to this difficult exercise. In fact, I tried Stairmaster at different times of the day – from early morning 5.00 am, to just after dinner and middle of the day, to immediately after work. This prepared me for the hike very well.
– Eat 1-2 fruits every day before breakfast: It is said fruits have the most food value when had in the morning on empty stomach. Having a fruit in morning is platinum to the body, having it in afternoon is like gold and becomes silver in evening and bare metal before sleep. I used to have fruits not daily and I had them at random times of the day.
– Not to waste/throw away remaining water in my drinking glass: I learnt during my hike to the Himalayas the immense value of clean drinking water, oxygen and food in the desolate altitudes. I drink a lot of water sometime as much as 20 glasses a day and during that process I had noticed that I used to throw away about 10-20% of the remaining water in the glass most times. I have rectified it, with 2 adjustments – drinking the water slowly and not throwing the remaining water in the glass but preserving it to drink later.
Also as an interesting move, I embarked on a mission to start using my left hand efficiently and effectively in 2016. I have been always fascinated with people who can use both their hands equally well.
I tried each of the activities for 30 days with my left hand all of these have become a habit for me now.
- Brushing my teeth with the left hand
- Shaving with the left hand with both electric and regular razors
- Cutting fruits with the left hand
- Eating with spoon/fork with the left hand
I also learnt the full lyrics of a meaningful Hindi song in just 30 days.
I started using mouth-wash regularly after my breakfast and dinner every day.
All, the above were simple things which I regimented myself to do for 30 straight days, and they became habits and part of my daily routine. Apart from the smaller things I have done, I have also done quite a few very hard difficult things in 2016. What I have learnt, in doing them is – to be focussed and remain focussed (in today’s demanding world it is so easy to lose focus – but I have made every effort to regain focus, whenever I have been distracted) and when things are overwhelming – not to think of the whole problem but break it into smaller, approachable and solvable pieces and focus on the smaller tasks and complete them. This gives, one breathing room and also measures your progress towards bigger goals – of accomplishing the bigger and harder job successfully.
I have not made any resolutions for 2017, except that I am going to do something interesting every month – something simple, something that is part of my daily lifestyle and something that can make me grow on a daily basis.
- Get back to Yoga – especially Pranayama (breathing exercise in Yoga) something – My father started me with Yoga when I was 7. I stopped my practice when I joined college – however – my father taught it so well and with so much rigor of daily practice for 10-11 years – which I can easily resurrect what he had taught me, even after so many years of gap. I want to do that now starting in 2017.
- Try out a few more things with my left hand: Keep on with the idea of using my left hand and learn doing new things with it – for example – using left hand for mouse, swap contents of my pant pockets and thereby adjust my brain to deal accordingly.
- A cup of green tea & honey daily for 30 days before it becomes a habit: The benefits of Green Tea is well known (in controlled amount) and I always wanted to adopt.
- Learn this great poem from a Nobel Laureate: “Where the mind is Without Fear“
- Try Resistance Band exercise: Again try this for a month and see how my mind and body reacts to it and then inculcate it as part of my daily routine.
I have not thought about other resolutions but hope I will discover new ones during my journey through the 2017 and try them out 1 month at a time.