The New Year = goals, yes?
Heck, even if the plan is that you don't want to make formal goals or that you want to accept yourself as "enough."
Regardless of the mindset, most humans can't help but step into a new year looking for a change.
That said, I am not here to talk about specific goals, as much as I want to share a tip for sustainability.
If I learned anything from culinary school, it's the power of replacement. Subtracting a foundational element from a recipe, especially when baking, isn't a thing. There always needs to be a replacement that solves for the chemical, mouth feel, and structural loss. A banana and apple sauce are awesome examples of whole foods that can be used instead of oil and eggs (flax seed eggs) in some cases. Example, is this pinterest baking substitution sheet (you're welcome):
The same goes for those looking to take "something out" of their diet. As someone that has practiced fasting for the last 18 years, I will testify that substitution is KEY. Now, I fast for spiritual and religious purposes, so my swap tends to be those things that strengthen me spiritually. So in place of eating, I will read the Bible, a book on fasting, or pray. That tends to be the case for most of my friends that fast for religious purposes (whether Ramadan, Lent, Yom Kippur, Shivaratri, and other spiritual purposes); we swap food for time spent deepening our faith.
But for my friends that fast for health or wanting to go on more restrictive diets, their replacements tend to be other foods or vitamins that fit their dietary needs. For example, my Intermittent Fasting folx tend to drink tons of water (tea, bone broth, vegetable broth, etc.) during their "off" hours, and when they eat, they up their portions, making sure that they are fulfilling their nutritional needs. Removing something out of our diet and our lives without proper replacement is a recipe for disaster. It's hard to sustain on elimination alone.
And this doesn't just apply to food. In Adam Alter's book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, he says:
“What you want to do is you want to find a behavior that is a stand-in for the behavior that you don't want to be doing. You replace the bad thing that you shouldn't be doing with something good that you should be doing.”
It’s like neuroscientists say, “you don’t break habits, you replace them.”
The Allure of Restriction
The idea of just not doing an action anymore may backfire. We all know the power of restriction - there is no more incredible allure than not being able to have it.
A Time Magazine article on breaking habits said it this way:
A 2008 study in Appetite, found that those who suppressed their thoughts about eating chocolate exhibited a behavioral rebound effect, where they consumed significantly more chocolate than those who didn’t. Similarly, a 2010 study published in Psychological Science found that smokers who tried to restrain their thoughts about smoking wound up thinking about it even more. If you’re a smoker and you tell yourself not to smoke, your brain still hears “smoke,” Berkman says (Elliot Berkman, director of the University of Oregon’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab) . Conversely, if you tell yourself to chew gum every time you want a cigarette, your brain has a more positive, concrete action to do, he notes. Similarly, if 5 p.m. has been linked with a glass of wine for years, use it as a time to, instead, double down on hydration and make sure the fridge is stocked with seltzers, cold water, and lemon, Berkman says."
SLOW LIVING & CONSCIOUS REPLACEMENT:
To eliminate distractions, I only checked my phone before 9 am and after 5 pm. It worked out fine until I realized that I was succeeding in reducing electronics, but I was not completing my projects. The reason is that while I was not using my phone, I wasn't intentional about the time saved. Now, my goal is to put away my phone UNTIL I complete the task in front of me. I now center on project completion vs. focus on eliminating phone use .
Slow living allows the consciousness to decide what you want to nourish yourself with at the moment. It will enable you to take the time and space to do the things that matter most in the present. And so instead of thoughtlessly eating, doing, or concentrating on something that brings you negativity or harm - you can instead choose to replace it with something that brings you peace, joy, and sustenance. When we move too fast, we find ourselves continually consuming what’s in front of us vs. looking for better options. In 2021, the more we can make conscious replacements, the more sustainable positive change will be in our lives (whatever that means to and for you).