With winter weather settling in, and our holiday spirit in full swing, the past few weeks have been pretty indulgent. Our house has recently been the scene of a lot of cocktail mixing, wine drinking, and heart-warming home cooked dinners like five-spice magrets de canard with chestnuts and cherries, and roast pork with prunes and all the trimmings. It’s all tasted as good as it sounds, and it's felt good; family, friends, and festivity is what this time of year is all about.
But it has also got me thinking about the new year, and the inevitable setting of my annual resolutions.
I know a lot of people (like Justin!) can’t see the point of setting new year’s resolutions. Most people usually don’t stick to them, me included, and I do appreciate that it's a bit arbitrary to outline big goals for change just because it’s the first day of January.
All of that said, I’m still a sucker for any opportunity to set a new goal. In the past, I’ve used moving house, or getting off a plane in a new country, as other “opportunities” to create a new intentions. It feels more official and definitive for a goal to mark an occasion, and I think that helps with resolve.
Anyway, I also suffer from the classic mistake of setting goals that are too big or difficult to achieve. Then I’ll inevitably have a setback, feel completely deflated, abandon my mission, and give up - which is obviously not a winning strategy. Intellectually I know the trick is to make smaller, more achievable goals, but I’m always lured by the bright lights of big change.
In the spirit of learning more about how to make my new year’s resolutions stick, I recently read The Power of Habit by the Pulitzer-prize winning author, Charles Duhigg.
It was a great read, and one idea that jumped out at me was the concept of 'keystone habits', those habits that create a ripple effect and help contribute to other positive changes.
You’ve probably heard that people who exercise regularly are more likely to also eat right. But did you know that the simple act of making your bed each morning could genuinely contribute to significantly improving your life?
“Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”
Along with habitual exercise, making your bed is a keystone habit.
“Keystone habits offer what is known within academic literature as ‘small wins’. They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.”
There’s no point beating around the bush - I’m not a morning person, and I’m not a tidy person. In fact, I’m downright messy and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I don’t make my bed of a morning. I’m one of those people that has to spend the afternoon cleaning and tidying before I can have people over for dinner.
Over the years I know I've driven Justin slightly mad with my lack of domestication. He’s obviously learned to live with me, but I wonder what the knock on effects would be if I started making the bed each morning? Would it help me stick to my other new year's resolutions. I’m going to start today, and see.