Umm, what? It doesn’t really need to be that confusing!
As we embark on the third month of the year, I’m wondering how everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. Remember those? We’ve had two full months, which is way longer than most experts say is required to establish a new habit. How’s it going?
Truthfully, I’m not sure if I even recall exactly what resolutions I might have made. Usually, I am not fond of making big changes January 1st. Instead, I feel we should always be striving to live our best lives. I prefer to tweak things as I go. But there is something to be said for giving yourself fair warning – a chance to mentally prepare for the transformation – especially if it’s a big one.
What if you failed? Not possible, I say! Give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing that you need to change something! The timeframe was of your own choosing. If it didn’t work out, try again! There is no rule that says you can only set personal goals on New Year’s! Right now, we’ve got two full weeks before the first day of Spring – You can be well on your way as you welcome the new season, if you begin now.
Here are some ideas to help us make a change, whether it’s significant or something small. Some are things that have proven tried and true for me, while others come from psychologists and other experts in human behavior.
- Be realistic: Set your sights on something that is doable and set yourself up to succeed. For example, if you vow to go to the gym, don’t say you’ll do it every day, if you haven’t been once in three years! Why not start out two or three times a week? You can always add more days, once you’ve established the new routine.
- Build support: If you plan to quit smoking, talk to someone who has succeeded. Avoid (if you can) advice from those who have failed numerous times. Maybe you have a friend who has accomplished whatever it is you set out to do. Confide in him/her with the hopes that he/she might check in with you about it, down the road. You will be inspired by their achievement and encouraged by their positive feedback.
- Remember why you started: There will be times when it’s really hard and you are tempted to fall back into your evil ways. But the encouragement you need is within you! Make a list of the benefits you’ll enjoy. If you’re trying to lose weight, visualize yourself doing the activities that will come easier, like walking or hiking. When things get tough, imagine yourself after reaching your goal and use that as incentive.
- Celebrate small steps: Don’t wait until you’ve run a marathon, if you’ve decided to start running! Maybe you started out only able to run a quarter of a mile, but today, you ran a mile! Allow yourself to feel really good about that! Maybe even put yourself out there as a role model for someone who is thinking about running or just starting out. Becoming a role model will boost your confidence.
- Avoid temptation: If you’re eating healthy, keep your old favorite potato chips out of the house until you have a handle on it. If you’re dieting, don’t celebrate your weight loss by eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Do things that will move your momentum forward and not create an invitation to relapse.
- Be patient: When I was working, I often met people who wanted to change their lives. Some were trying, usually against the odds. What I would tell the, is this: You didn’t get here overnight. Things will change, but it’s going to take some time before it comes easily. Experts say three weeks. I think it depends on how big the change is, your personality, strengths & weaknesses, support system, etc.
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start this blog. In the beginning, it felt awkward and cumbersome. Now, I cannot really relax or get on with my day until it’s done. It has become a part of who I am and I really look forward to it. You might say that it’s a habit – A good one!
2016 has only just begun. Spring is almost here. Whether you make that change or not, the time will pass anyway. Set your sights forward and give yourself another chance.