How To Successfully Build New Habits (also: Starburst concerns)

Well, we’re deep into New Year New You season (even though it might actually be December 34th, 2020 and we just haven’t found out yet). I thought I’d toss up two quick reminders:

1) Don’t trust people who think orange is the best Starburst flavor.

2) New Year New You is a terrible platform to stand on.

New Year New You sounds like it’s brilliant. As a kid, I was convinced that getting to September was gonna change everything I hated about childhood. September! This year I will have friends. This is hard to believe, but it turns out that it wasn’t the calendar month which affected my popularity. I just didn’t know how to make friends. Yet I kept thinking September would change this, feeling awful about myself while I waited.

This is why New Year New You is double garbage. First, it suggests that Old You is a heaving wanker who doesn’t deserve to exist anymore. That’s some outlook.

Second, it preys upon what I always fell for as a kid: that the changing of the date is somehow going to do something. It doesn’t. It’s a ploy to sell you…to yourself.

You remember in Ace Ventura when Ace finds out that Finkle is Einhorn and Einhorn is Finkle?

Old You is New You. New You is Old You. No purchase necessary.

New You is made up of every Old You: Latest You! Each of your choices and breaks and failures combine to create how you wake up tomorrow. It sounds like new age wizardry but it’s actually just neurology. The reason it’s hard to start daily running or to start eating five vegetables a day is because if you didn’t do it yesterday, your body doesn’t see any need to do it today. I wanted September to be the change at school, but I had to be the change at school. I wasn’t nice, fun, or empathetic. When I started practicing those, I made friends.

Understanding this is key. You don’t need January in order to transform into a person who exercises. All you need is introduce yourself to movement today, and your beautiful brain will take over the rest tomorrow. Convinced you’ll hate it? Think how many objectively awful things you started liking just because you were exposed to them enough times. Pizza Hut pizza, literature analysis, your husband.

The more you do something, the more your body will want it. Exercising today will make you more likely to exercise tomorrow. Exercising this week will make you more likely to exercise next week. You don’t have to throw Old You in the trash, you just have to expose her to what you’d like her to learn next. Not pledging five days a week, not vowing 300 workouts a year. You just need to do something today. It’s how you learn anything: even learning to like orange starbursts. Though that runs the risk of turning you into a serial killer. Fair warning.

Enjoy your Latest You.

NSCA-CPT, CSCS, American Ninja Warrior, gymnast, author, Gryffindor. Follow me on IG and Twitter @thebossiraptor, and at my website

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