I know, I know, you’re probably sighing right now at the thought of your New Year’s resolution. Perhaps you’ve already caved in and eaten the cookies you said you wouldn’t. Or you haven’t exactly gotten off the couch to sign up for that gym membership yet. And now that the reality of the New Year has hit, you may be filled with a little less hope that the change you wished to make will actually happen. Maybe you’ve even thought the dreaded words, “maybe next year.”
Well, I’m here as the sort of Obi-Wan Kenobi of the internet world (Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!) to reassure you that making a change is possible, and the New Year is a great time to do it.
It was 2010, and I was 11 years old. The age when perhaps you become a bit more aware of things, such as dehydration, nutrition, and overall wellness. At least it was that way for me. I suddenly became aware that I never drank water. Thinking back to it now, it was one of my earliest self-aware moments, the kind where you go, “Oh my God, I am not a floating brain on this planet, I need to take care of my body!” And this moment snapped 11-year-old me quickly into shape. I set my New Year’s resolution for 2011 to “drink more water.”
I started carrying a water bottle around wherever I went, constantly refilling it. I became a madwoman, panicked when I lost the bottle on the playground at my school. I know I would feel the same now if I ever lost my Hydroflask. My resolution worked, after all these years I continue to carry a water bottle wherever I go. It is rare I drink anything besides water (or coffee, if I’m honest) at meals. And when I read articles begging people to drink 8 cups of water a day for the love of God, I breeze by, knowing I have set myself up to be a water drinker for the rest of my life. And it all came from a resolution I made to myself seven years ago.
I must quickly acknowledge a few things. I was set up to make this change. I have consistent access to clean drinking water. I not only have healthy parents but other healthy role models in life who drink water. I have also been given many water bottles as presents. What can I say, I’m easy to read. Seriously, drinking more water was a pretty easy change for me to not only make but stick to. But what about those bigger, tougher New Year’s resolutions?
That's where science comes in (what...science?) You may be familiar with the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset model. It proposes that those who believe that hard work and perseverance lead to success are more likely to succeed than those who believe success is based on talent. Using this growth mindset strategy can do wonders in creating change for yourself! As Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford who did research on the Growth vs. Fixed Mindset, explains, trying new strategies, asking for help, and continuing on are indicators of a growth mindset. Taking these steps in that noggin of yours can surely move you to change!“Neural Plasticity,” stating that your experiences and external stimuli form connections as neurons fire in your brain. As you make these connections, they become stronger and old ones (old habits) get buried in the dust. In my example of drinking more water, the acts of increasing my water intake and carrying a water bottle formed those connections in my brain. As I continued to do so, the connections got stronger, and my old habits melted away with my effort to change. Drinking water became just a part of my life. So take the opportunity of this New Year to make a change for yourself. You might be surprised at what you are capable of once you begin.