Resolutions made easy: 5 Habit hacks for making real change in your life

Have you been resisting change? Here are a few tips to help you get unstuck and start going with the flow, so you can make the most of your best intentions for the New Year.

1. Do 10 minutes of yoga before your daily vice.

Today was a day off for my husband, and he picked up a nice dark beer for me and brought it home around 5pm. The fire was lit, the kids were frolicking, and it was tempting to break out the bottle opener and relax with a glass of grog. As innocent as that one glass may be, I have noticed a pattern: as soon as I take the first sip, the rest of my evening is given over to Netflix and exhaustion by the time the kids are in bed. I would like to do other things with my precious child-free evening hours sometimes, so tonight I implemented my yoga before drink policy and rolled out my mat in the middle of the chaos. 10 minutes of yoga is my go-to advice for everyone, because it is really hard to convince ourselves that we don’t have ten minutes for something that we know will improve our physical, mental and emotional well being, and usually once I start my ten minutes I happily dive into another ten, and then another. Starting is truly the hardest part. Instead of depriving yourself something you enjoy indulging in (whether it be a glass of grog, a slice of pie, a morning coffee), pair it with yoga and you may find your desire to indulge lessens gently, over time. 

2.Consult with a professional.

Being both a cheapskate and an enterprising DIY-er, it is often hard for me to accept that professional consultation is worthwhile. I look at the price tag and think I can figure that out myself with the help of a good book and a quick internet search. Weeks later, I find myself saturated in information and overdue library books but often without having made any concrete changes to my life. This week I had a one-hour consult with a nutritionist, and even though I walked into that appointment with plenty of knowledge about healthy eating, something about her specific perspective and recommendations and the alchemy of having an ally in my cause made all the difference.  I found myself hearing her voice every time I went to cook a meal, and as a result I have been eating healthier all week! Whether it be hiring a yoga therapist to help you discover poses and practices for your specific goals, getting a massage, or even consulting your astrologer, attention from a professional can be a great catalyst.3. Get curious about the specifics. 

3. Get curious about the specifics. 

Last week I took a 2-hr class on pelvic floor health, and I suddenly became aware of how my posture was affecting my pelvic floor (and vice versa) in almost everything that I do. By spending a good amount of time allowing myself to be curious about this one very specific place in my body, I am learning to change habits that would otherwise go unchecked (yes, even experienced yogis fall into problematic postural habits). I’m not saying that your curiosity needs to be on your pelvic floor, or your posture for that matter. Just that you can seek out something more specific inside of your habit change goals. Instead of stop wasting so much time, perhaps it would help to get curious about the specifics; Why DO I look at Facebook so frequently? What else could I do when I have 5 minutes free while waiting for the bus?

4. Think of yourself like one of those Angry Birds Towers. 

It can be very disappointing to make a tidy list of goals: go to yoga 3 times a week, write 3 pages every day, stop eating sugar, only to find that you are stuck in inertia. In this scenario, it is easy to say maybe next week to your goals list. Lately, I have been taking more of what I like to picture as the Angry Birds Method. I don’t know exactly how many birds I have to throw at this thing, and I don’t know how close I’ll get, but I just wind up my slingshot and let one go. Even if the bird barely scrapes the surface of the structure, it sets off a chain reaction of crumbling. It changes me, either a little or a lot. I go to one yoga class–it’s not something I’m checking off a goals list, it’s just me throwing a bird at my life and hoping I get somewhere. I may not go back for days, or weeks, or months. But I will feel, ever so slightly, the capacity to go back is strengthened, and the stuckness that keeps me from going back has been dislodged. It may still be teetering between two pillars, but throw one more bird at it and who knows what could happen? The old paradigm might topple completely!

5. Ignore something that is normally very important to you.

There is a dangerous sanctity that grows around our virtues. I am very good at cleaning my house (though with two young children, keeping my house clean for longer than a few minutes is another matter). I am so good at cleaning my house that I will bulldoze my way through playtime with my kids, I will shoot resentful glances at my husband for lounging when it is so obvious that the floor needs to be swept, I will throw out Christmas cards before the holiday has even happened. In these moments I realize that my good habit of cleaning is leaving many not-so-good habits in its wake. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop caring for a minute, and it’s in that juicy minute that I discover the potential for all of the other healthy habits that are waiting to be born in me. Try giving your good habits a day off, and see what new habits or inspirations may arise.

If you would like to practice embodying your New Year’s Resolutions, join me for a special New Year’s Day practice called “Embodied Intention”. Friday, January 1st from 10:30am-12pm at Yoga Refuge. If you would like to go further with establishing healthy habits, check out “Begin Where You Are: Creating Healthy Habits with Yoga” with Kelly Sunrose.

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