We’re approaching the end of a decade. 2020 – the year that for so long sounded like something out of sci-fi movies – arrives in less than a month.
Have you accomplished the resolutions you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year? Six out of ten of us set annual resolutions, but only 8% of that group go on to actually achieve our goals by December 31st.
Why do most goals fail?
- They’re too big
- They follow an unrealistic time frame
- They’re built for the short term
- You don’t have a support system
- The environment is inconducive to your success
- Willpower is a limited thing
- Your process isn’t time or resource efficient
- The goals are not important enough to you
Many people set these giant goals that in reality are nearly impossible to reach. Those who find the most success – the 8% – often get there by using microsteps.
What are Microsteps?
Microsteps are incremental, actionable strategies that you can take without much effort to consistently move towards your goals. Rather than implementing big, drastic changes, microsteps focus on minor adjustments you can make to improve your daily lifestyle. The end-game of microsteps is to ensure continuous, long-term manageable progress in the areas that matter most to you.
How to Microstep
- Choose your goal – just one. You’re probably very ambitious and have a bunch of honorable ambitions floating around your mind that you’re eager to tackle. But we want to concentrate on just the single most important goal you have for your life right now. This is the one that would most improve your life in the aspects that are most meaningful to you. If you’re having trouble choosing, narrow your options down to three. Then close your eyes and picture what it would feel like to accomplish each of them. Which one felt most valuable to you? Go with that one.
- Adjust your environment. In “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,” James Clear puts it well when he says, “The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible.” Willpower is not a sustainable resource, even for the most disciplined among us. If you want to eat healthier, for example, don’t keep junk food in the house. That way, if you do get a craving, you’ll have to drive somewhere to indulge it. You want to learn to play the guitar? Great! Buy a guitar and keep it somewhere obvious — almost annoying — so the reminder of your goal is constantly in your face. The point is to make giving in to bad habits as difficult as possible and engaging in good habits as easy as possible.
- Review your habits. In times of stress, we resort to our habits. If you’re feeling overworked, exhausted or overwhelmed, and your go-to behaviors include snacking on junk food, watching mindless TV, or starting arguments, that’s what you’ll do. The mind seeks comfort in familiarity. This is why it’s chiefly important to build a foundation of positive, productive routines. Reflect on your daily behavior. Pick one typical day of the week, take out a pen and write down your activities as you move throughout the day. Examine them without judgment. Notice where you can improve.
- Tweak your habits. We’re aiming for microsteps here, so there’s no need to overhaul your daily life. Instead, take what you learned from your reflection, and determine where you can add in positive behaviors or replace negative behaviors. For example, if you want to learn how to build a company but you don’t have any spare time, you could play a business-related podcast while you get ready for work in the morning. Or if you want to improve your nutrition, get your morning coffee black instead of adding in insulin-spiking packets of sugar. Small steps over the long term equal major results.
- Get a support system. Many goals fail when you don’t have people in your life who support you. Whatever your goal is, don’t keep it to yourself. You can benefit tremendously from the company, encouragement, or mentorship of supportive people. Try expressing to your best friends how important it is to you to improve your stress-management skills. They can motivate you to keep at it when willpower alludes you. Maybe they can also recommend options you hadn’t even considered, such as meditation classes, breathing exercises, or other strategies to further your progress. If you have a worthy goal but don’t know where to start, seek the help of an expert. For example, if you want to improve your body composition, hire a personal trainer. The monetary price you pay will be worth it if this goal really matters to you. The guidance and accountability you’ll receive will save you so much frustration, wasted time, and squandered effort.
- Keep going. The chief value of microsteps is that they are small, manageable steps you can take to improve your lifestyle… forever. We’re not going for short-term success here (which is practically an oxymoron). Microsteps are about building small positive elements into your everyday so that your everydays will be better in the ways that matter most to you.
Small steps + long term = major results.
“It’s never too late to redirect your journey towards your best self. Not accomplishing what you initially set out to this year is just a detour to learn from. December 1 is just as important as January 1. You’ve got this!”
– SteadyMD Dr. Seth Larsen
According to inc.com, the top three New Year’s resolutions for 2019 revolved around getting healthier.
More specifically, here were the top three goals among a survey of 2,000 people:
- Diet or eat healthier (71% of people)
- Exercise more (65% of people)
- Lose weight (54% of people)
At SteadyMD, we have a team of doctors who are your partners in long-term health. We’re in it for the long-game too, so we take a preventative healthcare approach to keep you healthy, energetic, and in your best shape for as long as possible.
If you’re looking for a microstep to take towards a personal health goal, a SteadyMD doctor can provide a supportive environment that’s rooted in qualified, professional healthcare. Taking on a goal by yourself can make you more susceptible to willpower fluxes or ineffective strategies.
To see who your ideal match would be among our team of doctors, take our 2-minute health quiz.