Like most people, I strive to make my life better. Unlike lots of people, I’ve learned to better my life in hundreds of ways while avoiding the stress, frustration and guilt that can follow the failed attempts at making meaningful and lasting change via New Year’s resolutions – we’ve all been there, looking at a largely unchanged list a year later.

Life is Long

I’m a big fan of remembering that “life is short” and that you have to “stop to smell the roses.”  At the same time, I’ve also learned that life is long, meaning that we have time, and that you don’t have to try to make a million changes all at once – which can leave you so overwhelmed that you make none. Instead, if you slow down to make the changes, and then stop to celebrate the progress, you’ll accomplish much more.

Slow Down to Make the Changes

Instead of creating a once-a-year-New-Year’s-resolutions type of list, keep a running list of goals – an ongoing list of life-improvement ideas. Because it takes 21 days to form a new habit, slow down and focus on one new habit every 21 days. This slow and steady approach is extremely effective and adds up to the positive changes we all want. Do the math: If you tackle one habit every 21 days, in three years you’ll have formed 52 new habits. That’s a huge number of improvements! Even if you slow down further (for example, one new habit every month, or every six weeks), you can experience many positive changes this year and in the years ahead.

With new habits, the first step is gaining awareness of the desired change by, in effect, “admitting you have a problem.” It may also be helpful to tell others that you are trying to accomplish a goal, to create some additional accountability. (I don’t always do that – often I like to proudly tell others about my accomplishments after I’ve achieved them – which I’ll do here: Periodically, my post will include a report on a new habit which I’ve adopted over a 21-day period.)

Stop to Celebrate the Progress

My second recommendation is that you keep a running list of your achievements. Over a three-year period, and for the rest of your life, instead of just looking ahead at your daunting list of goals, it’s critical that you stop to celebrate the progress every day, looking back at all that you’ve accomplished. You deserve it.

What Do You Think?

How are you slowing down to make the changes and stopping to celebrate the progress? I’m looking forward to learning from you. Please join the conversation…

p.s. Click here to download a PDF of the New Habits and Progress worksheet to keep track of your improvement ideas and your achievements. [Requires Adobe Acrobat]