Twenty-two years ago, I made a decision that would ultimately save my life.
That decision was as follows: I vowed to practice a particular qigong exercise (called Lifting The Sky) 10 times every day, no matter what.
This decision eventually led to a solid daily qigong practice – a practice that has managed a debilitating and life-threatening case of depression for over 22 years.
At the time, it didn’t seem like a big decision. I mean, it takes less than 2 minutes to do. All I knew was that I needed change. I also knew what hadn’t worked for me in the past: Resolutions.
It’s ironic because this WAS a New Year’s Resolution. And yet, it was different than other resolutions I had made in the past. Instead of resolving to quit smoking or exercise more, I resolved to do something simple and small every day.
As the new year rolls around, many of you are thinking about ways to improve your health and well-being. Maybe you’re thinking about exercising more. Or maybe you want to eat better. Or maybe since you’re reading my blog, you’re thinking about practicing qigong.
Resolving to practice qigong for 30 minutes daily in 2023 is a noble goal, but it’s also unrealistic. Studies show that, 2 years later, only 19% of people will have kept their resolution. Those are odds are not good enough for us.
My goal as a teacher is to help you make qigong a daily habit, something that you’ll not only be practicing 2 years from now, but 10.
But if resolutions don’t work, then what can we do instead? Luckily, there’s a straightforward answer to that question: focus on habits.
Habits > Resolutions
It’s natural to want to make changes and improvements in our lives. That part of the equation is good.
The problem is that resolutions don’t take human behavior into account. Resolving to lose weight in 2023 is a fantastic idea, but what does that mean, exactly? Can you simply lose weight by resolving to do it?
To lose weight, you’ll need to change your behavior. And to change your behavior, you need habits. Otherwise, you’ll need to motivate yourself every day.
With habits, there’s no motivation required once they are established. Do you need to motivate yourself to brush your teeth, or does it happen automatically?
This is why habits will always be greater than resolutions. Habits are small, consistent actions that we do automatically, without any fuss or muss. Habits are much easier to stick with than resolutions. That’s because they become a part of our daily routine, and when something is a part of our routine, it’s much easier to keep doing it.
How to Succeed with Habits in 2023
Here are some simple but important tips for adding new habits in 2023.
1. Start small. Instead of resolving to practice qigong every day for 30 minutes, resolve to practice for 2 minutes every day. This way, you’ll build up confidence and momentum.
2. Make it a daily habit. The truth is that a daily habit is easier than 3-4x per week. When you do something daily, it’s easier to do it consistently.
3. Find a trigger or reminder. If you want to start flossing every day, set the floss next to your toothbrush or in a place where you can easily see it. You can also add a reminder on your phone.
4. Be patient and realistic. Habits take time to form, and it’s normal to have setbacks along the way. Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day or two. Be kind to yourself.
5. Find an accountability partner. Having someone to check in with can be a great way to stay on track. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or a professional coach, having someone to support you can make all the difference.
6. Celebrate your successes. It’s important to recognize and celebrate your progress along the way. Whether it’s a small victory or a major milestone, take the time to acknowledge and reward yourself for your hard work. Did you do 30 days in a row of your new habit? Awesome! Celebrate!
7. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s normal to have setbacks or slip-ups when trying to create new habits. Don’t let these setbacks discourage you. Instead, use them as an opportunity to solidify your desire to create this new habit.
8. Start with adding instead of subtracting. Quitting smoking is a wonderful goal. (Click here to read how I quit smoking years ago.) But adding a healthy new habit is easier than subtracting a bad one. Start with adding good habits. Eventually, these will help to crowd out the bad ones.
Focus on creating habits rather than making resolutions. This is how you’ll make lasting changes. Habits are more effective than resolutions because they don’t require motivation and because they take human behavior into account. So don’t just make resolutions – make habits, and watch in amazement as your health improves in 2023 and beyond.
What habits will you add to your life in 2023? Which tips above are you most excited to implement to reach those goals? Let me know in the comments below! Best regards, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong (pronounced "chee gung") to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Today, I'm the director of Flowing Zen, an international organization with students in 48 counties. I've been teaching qigong since 2005, I've served on the board for the National Qigong Association, and I’ve helped thousands of people to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. If you're ready to get started with qigong, there's no better way than my best selling book, which comes with free videos and meditations. The sooner you read my book, the sooner you can start healing! Click here to see my book on Amazon.
Thank you for this this post Sifu Anthony. I usually practice once a day a few times a week. Today will mark 30 days of me practicing Flowing Zen Qigong 2x a day. It wasn’t easy to do so but it wasn’t really that difficult either. It’s kind of hard to explain. I hope I can keep it up though.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Jumping from 1x per day a few times a week to 2x per day for 30 days is fantastic! Congrats! Keep up the good work.
Craig Kulonis says
Thanks for your article. I have been trying to get into a daily habit of qigong with your 101 program for 2 years and still have not been able to make it a daily habit. I live with a rare neurological disorder that I have mentioned to you in past comments. The disorder is called cervical dystonia. It causes my neck to pull involuntarily to the.right. I know qigong can be of benefit to me so here I am once again willing to make qiging a daily part of my life. Happy New Year.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Hi Craig. Good for you for getting back up on the bicycle! You say that you haven’t succeeded in making it a daily habit, but what have you succeeded with? How much have you been able to practice these last two years? Any idea why you feel off the practice?
Craig Kulonis says
I have a problem with staying with anything for any length of time. Living with chronic pain I lose patience when I don’t see results in the short run. I know from all of your teaching that it is important to practice each day and let the process do its work. I have an understanding of what to do it is putting it into a lifestyle practice that I continually seem to struggle with. Thanks for your encouragement
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Hi Craig. Sticking with habits is hard for most people; sticking with habits when battling chronic pain is even harder. You are not alone in this struggle.
The 2-Minute Drill is the solution. Focus on Module 1 in the 101 Program. Remember: fall down 7 times, stand up 8. You can do this.
Craig J Kulonis says
Yes. I have set a reminder on my phone at noon each day to do tje 2 minute routine. Thanks again😊
Sifu Anthony, I forgot to ask. How many hours should there be between 2 Qigong sessions? Is five or six hours good, or should there be more?