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Instead of resolutions, do nudges


I’ve never been a fan of making sweeping resolutions or setting big, out-there goals. Anything that is big and long-term typically feels daunting and out of reach and I often self-implode from the amount of pressure I put on myself from my “big vision”.

I am a fan of nudges, however. Tiny little tweaks in behaviors and habits that can add up to large trajectory changes over the course of a few months or a year.

The biggest obstacle to reaching any goal or maintaining a resolution is the hundreds of tiny decisions and behavior changes needed along the way to achieve that goal. Sheer willpower to lose weight, drink less, workout more, or be less angry, typically fails us and can send us into shame spirals, causing us to often double down on the behaviors we so desperately want to change.

We are built to be efficiency machines. Our brains only weigh ~3lbs yet consume up to 35% of our daily caloric intake. Anything that challenges the status quo of our ways, even our self-destructive ways, causes inherent friction within our nervous system. It takes a lot of cognitive (and metabolic) effort to drive change. This is survival. We are made to choose the least metabolically heavy path so that we don’t starve to death because of an overactive brain.

So how can we drive meaningful change within our lives? We start by doing tiny things that “nudge” us in the direction we want.

Nudges are small and require minimal psychological effort and physical commitment. We know we want to eat healthier, so we buy more vegetables when we do our grocery shopping. When we see more vegetables in our fridge, chances are pretty good we’ll eat one or two more vegetables than we usually do. Or we lay our workout clothes out at night, or we buy cans of wine instead of bottles of wine so that it’s harder to have “just one more”.

Nudges focus on the moment in front of us rather than an outcome far into the future. Instead of resolving to lose 20lbs, we focus on eating an extra vegetable every day. And then once we have that down, we find it easier to take the stairs more or have water instead of a third drink.

Slight changes in the degree of our path lead to great change. Instead of thinking about your “big thing” for 2023, think about the little thing today that will start you off in the direction of that “big thing”. The little things always add up, so start small.

The body leads the mind.

Cheers to better living -

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