I  was talking to my sister Leah earlier this week and she was OFF THE CHAIN excited about how her year has started. She giddily told me about the various healthy practices she’s put in place for January…..no alcohol, put as many vegetables in the shopping cart as she possibly can, run every day. She even raved about the Veggetti, that As Seen On TV contraption that turns vegetables into noodles. Seriously, I should have been recording our phone call just to sell it to QVC.

All this to say – Leah had some pretty good goal setting advice. But don’t take my word for it, lend your ear to Mr. Carrot who was also listening in to our conversation. He’s been chomping at the bit to take the stage today…

Don’t worry, peanut gallery ants, his message gets a little more concise…

Here’s what Leah (and, coincidently, Mr. Carrot) have to say about goal setting in this new year:

Basically, the effects of one huge decision/life change/habit can pay huge dividends in other areas of your life. For example, Leah said now that she’s running every day, she sleeps like a rock. She also is up and ready to go at the crack of dawn – she doesn’t feel like sleeping in. Because of this, she gets so much done during the day and then feels awesome about herself. All of this can be traced back to her decision to start running. See the domino effect?

Maybe this seems to contradict Mr. Mouse’s advice about starting with tiny habits…Here’s what I find to be a helpful distinction: I save tiny habits for stuff that I know I’ll resist. The extreme changes can come into play for areas of my life where I’m already halfway there – so I’m not really resistant to the idea but could take things to a whole new level and create some massive change by just deciding to be extreme.

For Leah, one of these “extreme decisions” has been eating more vegetarian meals – not just once or twice a week but literally trying to cram as many veggies into a meal as is humanly possible. She already enjoyed eating vegetables so she just took it to an extreme. If you’re a T-Rex, you’d probably be better off putting this in the tiny habit arena – maybe a daily nibble of a carrot would be more appropriate for you.

I’ve already written about my tiny habits for the year; where I think I’ve applied Leah and Carrot’s wisdom is in the arena of exercise – swimming in particular. This year, I’ve been swimming laps every other day. I already like swimming as a workout, I just hadn’t been making a point to fit it in – so making this big goal right away hasn’t made it impossible to keep up with. I was already halfway there and just needed to commit to start making it happen. (Notice how I’m using “extreme” loosely here – I don’t think you need to commit to climbing Everest to apply this advice.)

So there it is. Big thanks to Leah and Carrot for the inspiration this glorious Friday.

Let’s get extreme, friends!