I’ll admit I love the post-holiday weeks—the quiet and clarity after all the hoopla. I know I’m in good company when I say I look forward to getting back to my routine with a renewed vigor. It’s a time of self-focus again after the hectic period of extroversion. In this way, the month lends itself well to goal-setting. Being in the field I’m in, I’ve seen it work for people in powerful ways, and I personally harness New Year’s momentum for myself each year. That said, I’ve also seen people get too wrapped around an all-or-nothing mentality this time of year. The sad fact is, some people take a vice grip to their resolutions and then give up the whole venture when their self-imposed tension doesn’t translate into sustainable motivation. Do they forget that we enjoy 12 full months per calendar year, 365 glorious days—all of which offer the same opportunity for change?
Sure, I get the clean slate metaphor. New year, new you. It’s a powerful suggestion this time of year (and one of the reasons we do the 21-Day Challenge in January). That said, I make a point of writing about behavior change throughout the year because that choice is available to us at all times—not simply when the culture at large declares it so.
The fact is, we can claim a clean slate whenever we feel like it. (It’s good to stir up a little audacity now and then, right?) We’re simply dealing with a question of mindset. How can I effectively mobilize myself to begin achieving my goals (or upping the ante on them) any day of the year? In other words, how can I make each day a potent, no-holds-barred opportunity for change? Let’s look at a few ways….
1. Ceremoniously absolve yourself of past/perceived shortcomings and mistakes.
Back to the clean slate deal for a moment…
Do some physical act to make a clean break from whatever story it’s time to ditch. Burn something symbolizing (or listing) what you want to let go of, or literally throw a stone in the ocean. Officially grant yourself clean psychic space to move through.
If you’re holding onto self-talk or self-perception that suggests you aren’t fully worthy of your goal, guess what? No day of the year will offer enough magic to live your way beyond it—except the day you drop that burden like a stone in the ocean.
Do you what you need to do to let go of old toxicity. Lose naysaying friends and avoid the unsupportive family members—at least for a while. Keep burning, breaking or throwing whatever you need to until you start believing these old patterns are gone.
2. Scratch the entire day’s schedule.
Dump every single thing on your calendar. All of it. And instead devote an entire day to exactly the activities/choices you want to bring into your life.
Give the whole day to experimentation. Visit a Crossfit gym. Go for a hike. Cook a week’s worth of Primal delicacies. Get a massage. Go barefoot. Give an hour to some yoga or meditation. Take a nap. Take a swim. Feign a power outage.
Write or share about your experience and decide what you want to incorporate the next day and the day after that.
3. Surround yourself with voices that support the change you’re making.
We feel buoyed around New Year’s because other people are making changes and the messages around us support transformation.
Make a phone call to a friend who will walk with you or show you the ropes at the gym. Hire a trainer or some other kind of help you need to make the new choices you have in mind. Join/participate in an online forum (I know a good one) where you can steep yourself in knowledge and camaraderie.
Don’t forget your physical space. Put relevant affirmations on your bathroom mirror, encouraging images or words on your refrigerator or positive mantras in your work space. Don’t worry if it feels like hooey today. Just make the choice today—and each subsequent day—to surround yourself with what you want to live into.
4. Take a positive inventory.
People who are looking to change their bodies in some way are generally pretty good at negative inventories. I would, in fact, venture to say that most of us can whip off a pretty biting list of all our faults—probably in record time. But these unfavorable realizations aren’t what keep people going to the gym.
What keeps people exercising, eating well and taking care of themselves are things like self-worth and joy and fulfillment. It’s when people like how they feel when they eat real food or sleep well and believe they’re worth the added forethought and commitment. It’s not when people believe they’re unacceptable to others as they are but when their current circumstances become unacceptable to their self-regard. They want something better for themselves.
Taking a positive inventory of your life and choices can bolster this influence (not to mention your general happiness). What are you grateful for? What gives you joy every day? What are you proud of lately? What do you have to offer, and how have you offered it lately? What do you value about yourself and your life? What in you is ready to claim a better life? The answers to these questions are much more compelling reasons to change your health than the impression you simply “should.”
5. Upgrade your morning routine.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Okay, now that we have that unanimity established, you’ll understand the same principle applies to the other side of the coin. You’re likely to carry the energy through the day that began it.
With this in mind, try starting the day with positive momentum. Get up early enough to fit in some serious “me” time in whatever way will fill the tank the best. For some people, that means working out. For others, it’s meditation or some creative work. For still others, it might mean starting with an awesome breakfast or quality time with family—or a combination of some kind. Decide how you want your day to feel, and do what will set the stage for it.
6. Find another portion of the day to reset in some way.
Whether or not you change up your morning, find an(other) time of day to realign. Maybe it’s the hour before bed you’d like to spend differently. Maybe it’s your lunch hour or the hour you get home from work.
Figure out a block of time in your day you could get the most out of revising—whether it’s for added productivity, less stress, enhanced energy or more enjoyment.
7. Venture a new hobby.
Do we seriously always need to slap a “work” label on anything healthy? Can a “workout” simply be fun? How about taking up a new active pastime instead of a fitness routine?
What Grok-worthy activity feels like it would be a good way to unwind, to burn off stress, to ramp up some friendly competition, to act like a kid again, to enjoy the outdoors? That’s your window to change.
8. Sign up for an event or group that will push your boundaries (in a good way).
Run club? CrossFit class? Charity race? Hockey league? Cross Country Lessons? Hot yoga? Hiking Meetup? State parks volunteer organization? Community rugby? Polar dip? (There’s something to that cold water immersion, you know….)
Whatever it is that appeals, why not choose your own adventure?
9. Eat something fantastic.
It sounds simple (and often is), but that’s doesn’t mean you can’t be fantastically inspired. Some meals are so good you’ll somehow never be the same.
Want to know how good meat can be—or any Primal-worthy fare? Get thee to the best restaurant you have access to and order the most tempting Primal style meal you can put together. (Tip: cost doesn’t have as much to do with quality as you might think.) Take note of the ingredients, seasonings and preparation to recreate later.
If you’re up for the challenge, you can alternatively take to the kitchen right away and set out to make a Primal meal to end all eating. Show yourself just how good the PB can be and then ask why you’d settle for anything less.
10. Take a strategic day trip—or extended retreat.
Because the Primal Blueprint isn’t just a diet… At its best and deepest, it’s a lifestyle that attempts to discern and fulfill all our innate human essentials, including silence, wilderness, solitude and euphoria.
What kind of trip—day or extended—would fill a deep need in you right now? For some of us that might mean an expedition for extreme outdoor exploits. For others, it might mean a solitary retreat away from anyone and everything you know. Maybe just you and the dog under the stars.
Whichever you choose, sometimes the best game changer is a day (or week) away.
Thanks for reading, everyone. What decisions have invited change for you? What advice do you have for folks ready to move toward Primal living this or any day of the year? Have a great end to your week, everybody.
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About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.