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  • Debbie Dugan

A life-changing book for 2020




As we mow down another Christmas cookie or plow through another weekend of holiday indulgence, we might be starting to hear that small voice in the back of our mind. You know the one, the “in a couple more weeks I’m going to shift gears to that better version of myself’”. I’m here to tell you some good news…..you are perfectly okay in this moment! I used to stress at the roller coaster of holiday eating and indulgence. Should I enjoy myself? Wait, but not too much! Oh, I’ll get to the gym come January. Yet, once January comes I am feeling motivated one week and hopeless the next.


Studies show that New Years resolutions are abandoned usually by January 10th or so. Discouraging news. If you want to make real, powerful changes, it first begins with a hearty dose of self-acceptance and an overview of your daily, weekly, and monthly habits. Consider this…..how you behave during the holidays, even though it only comes one time of year, can be a habit. I typically eat fairly healthy throughout the year, and suddenly Thanksgiving hits and I’m in a 40-day food coma. This literally happens to me (and most of us) every year, and then I revert back to a healthier routine. So I’ve learned to give myself a little break….this is only temporary!!


Now about that life-changing book. I read Atomic Habits by James Clear back in February of this year. I’m an admitted self-help junkie, and this one tops the charts. Why?? Because I was able to make immediate, lasting changes that have sustained me since I first picked it up. A couple habits that I crushed it on?? Nail biting and negative self talk. Let me share a few tips on how I accomplished this…


James Clear has an amazing way of breaking down the habit cycle. A major part of habit formation or habit breaking comes down to the “cue”. (The easiest way to think of a cue is to think of a text message alert. You hear the “ding” and your brain immediately tells you to check your phone. Phone companies understand this concept well!!) For my nail biting, the cue was simply that I’d start to feel my nails getting longer. First I’d begin fidgeting with them with my fingers, and before I knew it I was biting them off. With the help of the book, and my 8-year-old daughter/accountability coach, I was able to nick the habit. (always have your kids keep tabs on you...they do it well!) I put a nail clipper and a file in every location that I regularly frequented….my house, my office, even my car. In my house, I purposely left the clippers and file on the counter to see everyday. This was my new cue. Selecting easy and obvious cues are just a few of the ways you can get yourself on track. Whatever your bad habit is, or the good habit you want to create, James Clear has amazing template to get you on the right path.


One of my favorite takeaways from the book, and the most important to remember this time of year is the celebrating of small successes. The microscopic changes you make throughout your day are going to make the biggest impact. If, for example, you want to start a running program, you are better off to simply lace your shoes every day and step outside, even if the actual run doesn’t happen. The act of putting on your shoes every day is a victory, and it should be emphasized that repeating something DAILY is what is going to give you the biggest chance of success. Similarly, if you have a crappy workout that only lasts 5 minutes…..celebrate it! You worked out, and those 5 minutes count in the long run. This concept helped me so much with my negative self-talk. I still get discouraging thoughts just like anyone, but I have made this my new cue for positive affirmations. These positive affirmations help me to not sweat the things like overindulgence or missing a workout. I focus instead on other things I have done right for the day, and I capitalize on that positive momentum.


So today, you are enough, you are amazing, and you are already doing good things that make your life function well. For all the things that need improvement, look at them with an open heart and an open mind, and make the small change….and celebrate it! (with a sugar cookie in your hand!). I am leaving you with a great quote from James Clear…..


"New goals don't deliver new results. New lifestyles do.

And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better habits, not chasing better results."


Buy Atomic Habits here: https://www.amazon.com/Atomic-Habits-Proven-Build-Break/dp/0735211299



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