Why '2-minute mornings' might be more effective than New Year's resolutions
Published Wednesday, December 27, 2017 2:16PM EST
Neil Pasricha would like to see the end of New Year’s resolutions.
The motivational speaker and bestselling author of “The Book of Awesome” and “The Happiness Equation” says the problem with resolutions is that they tend to be vague and are thus doomed to fail.
“I don’t think resolutions work. I know they don’t work from the research, and I don’t think they’re doing us much good because if you start a resolution and you fail, you just feel worse about yourself,” he told CTV’s Your Morning Wednesday.
The reason that most New Year’s resolutions fail is that they are just goals, not specific plans of action, Pasricha believes. What we need instead are systems that will force us to change our bad behaviours and create new habits.
“Systems beat goals every time,” Pasricha said, and added that if we truly want change, we have to force ourselves to change.
“So if you want to lose 10 pounds, maybe sell your car and walk to work. Now you have no car, so the system is, how will you get to work?” he explained. Any plan that regiments us into new habits will eventually force a shift in behaviour, he said.
One change in habits that Pasricha recently developed for himself is what he calls “two-minute mornings.” Every morning, Pasricha forces himself to take two minutes and “invest” them into reflection and planning out the rest of his day.
“The way I look at it is we are awake for about 1,000 minutes a day. My challenge for myself is to take two minutes to make the other 998 more effective, more productive and more positive,” he explained.
During those two minutes, he forces himself to write out the answers to three prompts: one for looking back; one for being mindful of the right now; and one to look ahead to what’s next. They are:
- “I will let go of…”
- “I am grateful for…”
- “I will focus on...”
The first prompt is a time for some unloading of stress and guilt and a little self-forgiveness– not unlike what Catholics engage in when they step into a confessional.
“We all carry around anxieties and stresses. All of us do. If you think you don’t, you’re lying,” Pasricha said.
By reflecting on what needs to be let go, we can unload some of the stress we needlessly place on ourselves, and perhaps stop comparing ourselves to unfair standards.
The next prompt is designed to move away from guilt, stress and negativity and place the focus on all the things that are good about our lives right now.
Even though we live in a time of great abundance, with longer lifespans than ever, more technology, advanced health care, and less warfare, we’re more stressed and anxious than ever, Pasricha said. By focusing on what we’re grateful for, we can remind ourselves how lucky we are.
“If you focus on the positive, you’ll keep looking for it every day,” Pasricha said.
Finally, he said it’s important to set three small, achievable goals a day. Things such as: calling or emailing a friend; going for an evening walk; bing friendly with cashiers and asking them about their day.
The aim is to create bite-sized goals that you then check off as accomplishments at the end of the day
“Take the endless list of things you could do, and narrow it down to three things you will do that day,” Pasricha advised.