New Year’s Day marks the end of the holiday season and with that comes the annual tradition of setting resolutions for self-improvement. Many decide it is time to lose weight, exercise more, be nicer, get rid of clutter, spend less money or many similar healthy goals. However often these resolutions do not become lasting habits and leave us feeling frustrated, deprived or like we failed. This year can be different by taking a new approach.
7 Steps to Lasting Change
1. Keep it simple! Write down the goals you would like to achieve in 2016 and then prioritize them and then work on one at a time. It can be overwhelming to try to change more than one habit at a time and it increases the likelihood of giving up. Allowing each habit to become established before moving onto another will increase chances of success and will also help strengthen willpower capacity.
2. Keep the goal specific. Be specific in what you would like to achieve. If the goal is not clear it is challenging to know when you have reached it. A specific goal might be to exercise 4 days a week for 30 minutes. It also is helpful to decide when you will do it and write on your calendar just like any other appointment.
3. Identify what achieving the goal will give you. For example if you want to exercise more, what will the benefits be? Is the purpose to lose weight, appease your doctor or be able to play with your children or grandchildren? Also is it your goal or someone else’s hope for you? Having a realistic expectation of how the change will benefit you can help you decide whether pursuing the goal is meaningful to you.
4. Identify what you will give up. Change can be hard because we have to let go of something to achieve it. This could be sleep if we get up earlier to exercise or companionship if we decide to stay away from happy hour. Often there is pressure from peers or family members for us not to change because they feel threatened by the change. These are all potential obstacles that we need to identify so that we can plan a strategy to work through them. By planning ahead we can find a way to avoid the feeling of deprivation that can sabotage our goals.
5. Get support. Change is easier when you have a support system to work through the obstacles that arise. A friend, a family member or a life coach can help you stay on track and encourage you throughout the process. Use your support system when feelings of deprivation surface so that you don’t feel alone.
6. Allow for slipups! Know there will be times when you will have setbacks and forgive yourself so you can move forward. Many times we abandon our plans because we believe a slipup signals a failure so we might as well give up. Change is rarely linear and we can learn and grow from our relapses. You can begin again at any time!
7. Celebrate small steps! Plan ahead for ways to celebrate the progress you make toward your change. Decide what works for you and reward your hard work.
For more information on Making Lasting Change please join me on Sunday January 24th at 2pm for a free one-hour workshop. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or for more information. Looking for one on one support? I offer a complimentary session at your convenience to help you set and plan for your goals.