Back in November 2014, I read a book that changed my life. I was a few months into my journey of trying to be healthier and kept failing miserably. I tried to change everything all at once and kept reverting back to my old behaviors with ridiculous (and sad) frequency. I knew it was important, but how do you get these important, healthy habits to stick?
The answer came from a business book, actually. One of my clients reads books and presents synopses on them for a living,
and I design his handouts. He is always quick to tell me if and when he has found a truly helpful or insightful book. Enter The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
Now the premise of this book is not new by any means. Basically, small, consistent changes over time add up to huge improvements. Logically it makes sense, right? But when I looked at how I was approaching my health, I was doing the opposite. Some of you might be rockstars who can make tons of positive changes and stick with them…great for you, seriously. I am jealous! But for the majority of us, big things happen as an accumulation of small things.
I ended up making some pretty huge changes in my life. I exercise 6 days a week, pretty much without fail, unless I am really sick…and you know what? I actually kind of enjoy it. I quit drinking Coke, which was a HUGE deal for me. I drink more than 8 glasses of water a day, I take supplements regularly, I eat healthy at least 85% of the time (and I have a nerdy spreadsheet I created to prove it). All of these things seemed impossible to me at one time, and they would have been if I had done them all at once.
In addition, I apply this to changing out beauty and household products to natural versions. Instead of immediately throwing everything out and starting fresh, I simply replaced chemical laden versions with healthy versions as they run out. When I ran out of dishwashing detergent, I made my own. When it was time to chunk my eyeliner in the trash, I opted for a safer version with Beautycounter. It keeps you from feeling overwhelmed (and saves money too).
This strategy seems like it will take longer to reach your goals. It seems like you are making progress, but not enough. And maybe if you have been told you need to make some big changes in your life, like to avoid another heart attack or diabetes, then by all means go for it as quickly as you can. But for me, taking slow steps (CONSISTENTLY) has allowed me to make progress where I was only going back and forth between good and bad habits.
Could you exercise more (or at all)? Drink enough water? Mine this month is to quit sweet tea. (I am sure you can see a theme now…yes, I love sugar, and I am trying to kick it to the curb.)
Then, maybe next month add to it. If this month is exercise twice a week, next month bump it to three times. If this month you drink plenty of water, next month start taking your supplements regularly. Small improvements over time yield massive results.
Think about the benefits of doing this the rest of your life, month after month, consistently adding new healthy habits to your life. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, you just need to start small and work up to your goals.
I highly recommend you check out The Compound Effect. Yes, it is a business book, and I love it for its application to business too, but think about it in terms of your health. At this point in January, most people have already given up on their resolutions. Because we don’t work that way. Because we try to do too much all at once. And because we mess up and throw in the towel instead of just pressing forward, one habit at a time.
What healthy habit or habits are you trying to add to your life right now?
P.S. Another idea I got from this book was to start a gratitude journal about my husband. Everyday for a year, I wrote in a journal why I was grateful for Matt, and then I gave the journal to him for Christmas. He liked it, but the habit of expressing gratitude and thinking about my husband daily significantly improved our relationship and my view of him more than anything. If you like the idea, give it a try! 🙂
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