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Make the Leap with Helen Russell

‘There isn’t a safe way to make the leap; we just have to jump. And it can feel like a long way down.’

2016 has been a rollercoaster (to say the least) and 2017 couldn’t come any sooner. Here at Yellow Kite we are ditching our New Year’s Resolutions, and embracing real change.

In her brilliant new book, Leap Year, chronic indecision sufferer and change-phobic Helen Russell decides to undertake a year of experiments in change, using her willing friends as examples / guinea pigs in her mission to discover how to make long term, sustainable improvements to life. As Russell points out, New Year’s Resolutions are rarely the answer, and more often than not are broken before the month is up. So, this year at Yellow Kite, we are starting early. Christmas has passed and the new year is on the horizon, so why wait for January 1st? Here are a few top tips and tactics from Russell, to help you bypass that familiar broken resolution, and make the leap into positive change.

1. Don’t Be Afraid!
‘While I may find the thought of change paralyzing, studies show that when most of us begin a new relationship – or job, or even a friendship – we are the best version of ourselves.’

First, remember that change is positive, so don’t be afraid. Russell writes that trying new things releases dopamine – the ‘happy hormone’ – in our brains, and tends to invigorate us. Change might be scary, but it makes us feel good!

2. Know Yourself
‘Knowing yourself is key, then working out what you really want to change.’

Russell writes that by monitoring your own habits and behaviours, it is easier to be aware of your triggers, and avoid them. For example, if you know you won’t just eat one biscuit, don’t have any in the house! By being aware of your own temptations and patterns, you can tailor your change to yourself.

3. Focus Yourself
‘Willpower isn’t a character trait you’re necessarily born with. Studies show that you can train yourself to have more of it, but it also gets depleted if you overuse it – like a muscle.’

Russell teaches us that, like energy, motivation runs out. Constant motivation is unsustainable. You need to rest, stretch, and focus your efforts. This is another reason why new years resolutions fail. More often than not, they are resolutions to abruptly change behaviours we have learned over a much longer time, and our willpower muscles cannot perform under stress without proper training and rest.

4. Accept failure
‘Understand that there is no perfect decision or ideal solution. To any change option. Ever.’

Resolutions are about success or failure – and once they are broken, we don’t look back. Real, permanent change is continuous, gradual, and never absolute. Errors are crucial, and no change is perfect. By accepting failure, you can move past it and try again.

5. Change Again!
‘You can’t waste energy beating yourself up. You need to take action, then move on. It’s not easy but it is possible.’

This is the best bit – by making your whole year a Leap Year, you have 365 days to change, in as many ways as you can think of. If one thing doesn’t work, you can change again! Test things out, choose between them, discard some things and embrace others.

Watch Helen expand on this subject in the below video!

Helen Russell