Make A Lifestyle Change Your Resolution

Mid-January. This is about the time where many people start to give up on their New Year’s resolutions – nearly all give up by Valentine’s Day. This is usually because people set very high expectations for themselves, set too many goals to manage, or look at their resolutions as punishment. This is especially true when people choose to diet or start an exercise program.

In my experience, when treated as temporary solutions (once I reach my weight goal, I’ll go back to eating X or I won’t have to exercise), it can be difficult to stay motivated especially when the desired change does not happen quickly. Now what would happen if we started to think of resolutions as lifestyle changes and took baby steps towards improvement? Adapting to the new behavior may become the new habit.

“Small change is powerful. The power of small change lies in how much easier small changes are to initiate and maintain, and how meaningful are the patterns they create.”

-“Small Change: Little Things Make a Big Difference,” Susan & Larry Terkel

If you are faltering when it comes to the resolutions you’ve set for yourself, here are some ways to get back on course.

1. Have you set too many goals? Having more than one or two things to focus on can be overwhelming and thus, cause stress and faster abandonment. Revisit what you’ve set, ask yourself what is the highest priority.

2. Make that priority your first goal and set small goals for achieving this. Now, if your goal is “I want to lose weight, ” be more specific about how much and by when (and be reasonable – 6-8 pounds is a healthy average monthly weight loss). Having clear-cut parameters also can keep you accountable.

3. Set small and manageable strategies. If your goal is to become more financially organized, maybe your first strategy is just to create a monthly/yearly personal budget. Future strategies could be to set up online or automatic bill-pay, learn how to – or start to – balance your bank account. Give yourself a month or two to accomplish each, but don’t move on to the next one until you’ve accomplished the previous. It takes time, but remember, small changes create meaningful habits. If you are having difficulty completing a strategy, see if there’s a way you can make it even smaller.

4. Reward yourself. Give yourself positive reinforcement – a movie, a special dinner or even just a pat on your own back – when you’ve achieved these small accomplishments. You’ll start to feel more confident about achieving the bigger goal… Okay, as a football fanatic, I have to use the analogy here: it’s like getting first downs – they don’t always happen on the first try, but you get a few chances to reach that first down marker (strategy), and each first down you get (accomplishment) you are closer and closer to the endzone and that touchdown (the ultimate goal).

Now that I’ve lost some of my readers with that, I will close by reminding everyone that old habits die hard, new habits take time to become ingrained, and slowly you’ll see the benefits. You have the power. Or maybe I should say, you’ve got the ball now start running!

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