with Hannah Garland

  • Hannah Garland

Who do you want to be in 20 years?

This is a companion blog to this week's podcast "How to build habits that last." You can listen to it here.

As the year that shall not be named passes and another begins, it's time to set expectations for the year. This New Year’s day, most people will create resolutions. These look like goals, dreams, and habits. Most people will fail. In fact, this year, an estimated 75% of people will create resolutions and, typically fewer than 10% of them succeed.

If you want to change who you are, you need to change your habits. You likely have bad habits that brought you to where you are. If you resolve to lose weight, recognize that bad habits got you to a place where you are unhappy with your weight. If you resolve to organize your home better, bad habits have made you disorganized. It’s crucial to create positive habits to displace the bad ones if you want your resolutions to last.

Easier said than done. Cognitive awareness of the need to change isn’t enough to incite real change. In order to build purpose-driven habits, you need to think deeply about the person you want to be and your reason for changing.

This week’s podcast dives deep into the foundations of habit-making. In this blog, I’ve linked two worksheets that accompany the podcast:

Resolutions worksheet
Download PDF • 1.90MB
SMART habits worksheet
Download PDF • 32KB

These worksheets are simple but effective ways to 1) outline your reasoning for changing or adopting a resolution and 2) create a habit to help you change. Check them out and use them to develop your resolutions this year!

Reason for change

Motivation is fleeting and emotional. You need to bolster your motivation with strong reasoning. Why do you want to adopt a new resolution? Make sure your reason is meaningful to you.

Focus on who you want to be

It’s common to orient resolutions around what you want to do. However, you’ll be more likely to internalize the resolution if you tie it to who you want to be. This can be an “ideal” version of you but it’s not altogether unattainable. Name who that person is - do you want to be an athlete, a minimalist, a generous person, or a Christian? Then, work backwards from there. If you want to be an athlete, then consider what habits you need to do to become one.

Naming you you want to be is important - it personalizes your behaviors. Every time you are confronted with a choice that contends with your athleticism, for example, have some self talk. Tell yourself, “I’m an athlete and athletes choose to exercise even when they don’t want to.”

Don’t tie your resolutions to short term goals

Rather, don’t only tie them to short-term goals. Short-term goals create people with short-term perspectives. This is why most people who train for a 5k don’t run as much after the race. They were reaching for something near-sighted and didn’t have a long-term plan.

Build a functional long-term vision

Instead of focusing on short-term goals, consider who you want to be in 5, 10, or even 20 years. What kind of person are you in the future? What does your life look like? Feel free to get detailed.

Within 5 years, I want to exercise throughout my next pregnancy so I can recover quickly. In 20 years and beyond, I want to be active. I want to hike with my grown children and play with my grandchildren. I want to be able to garden and not need help carrying groceries.

The future version of you is your vision. You can use your vision in two ways.

First of all, use your vision as an outcome to build outcome-oriented habits. If you want to achieve your vision (the future desired outcome we just discussed), your habits are how you get there. What habits do you need to put into place now to become who you want to be in the future?

Second of all, use it for visualization. Visualization is essentially using your imagination to propel you toward a desired outcome. Whenever I need extra motivation to run up a hill, I visualize being that strong, active older person and know that I need to run up the hill often in order to get there.

Journal regularly

Lasting change takes time. It may happen so slowly that you don't perceive it. Journal your progress at least once a week. If pictures make sense for your goal (for example, if it’s a physical goal, then include pictures). Then, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

Happy New Year!

Hi, there! I go deeper into topics in my podcasts. Each are about 20 minutes long and they drop weekly on Thursdays. Please check one out here!