The start of another year prompts many people to hastily come up with a list of resolutions. But by the end of January, most feel discouraged and that they failed. Don’t let that happen to you this year.
There is a better and easier way to make new year’s resolutions that create lasting changes in your life.
Step 1 – Don’t Make Your Resolutions on January 1!
January 1 is not the best time to make major changes. The stress of the holidays is still present. The beginning of the year is usually hectic. We have barely had time to close out the past year. Let’s give last year its proper send off and spend a week or so marveling at how far we have come in the past year. What were our successes? Were there any disappointments or losses? Acknowledging all the year contained allows us to really bring closure to the old year. With a feeling of completion for the previous year, we can really turn our attention to creating something new or different or changing ourselves in some way.
After giving last year a proper goodbye (one night is hardly adequate), spend January exploring what areas of your life you may want to change. Spend several weeks looking into what steps may be needed to make these changes.
Let’s look at the most common resolution: losing weight. Instead of deciding your resolution is to lose 20 pounds by April 1, look into what you will do to make weight loss possible: exercising, healthy eating, stress reduction, etc. Then take it a step further: where will you exercise, how often, what time of day? What is healthy eating to you? How will you make that happen? (Peek at #3 for ideas on how to think about your goal.)
Step 2 – Keep It Short.
It is common for people to create a massive 20-30 item wish list of New Year’s resolutions. It is not realistic to expect anyone to tackle that many changes! Generally no more than three changes at a time are possible. So look at what things are really important to you. What do you want your life to be like by the end of the year? This is where to start your resolution planning. One area of focus may be best for you. That is great. But no more than 3.
Step 3 – Realize You Are Creating a Habit.
Making lasting changes is a process, not a one time thing. The habit is what will get you to your goal and keep you at your goal. So what processes will it take for you to reach your goal? Use a week as the time frame for your habit. What weekly habits do you need to create to work toward your goal? Anything longer than a week is too distant to be meaningful. Focusing on less than a week will likely lead to disappointment. Minor or major disruptions can happen on a daily or hourly basis and throw off your process/habit if you have a daily time frame. For example, expecting yourself to always do something every day may be unrealistic, particularly at first. Any given day something unexpected can happen. However, planning your habit on a weekly basis allows for a few disruptions to happen and yet your overall habit can stay on track.
Step 4 – Honestly Assess How Ready You Are To Change.
Are you ready to do what it takes to make the changes? If not, choose goals and habits that you are more motivated to achieve. Also, don’t fall into the trap that many do: one slip or miss and they have failed. That just isn’t realistic. Instead, plan for setbacks or slip-ups. How will you respond to these? How will you get yourself back on track? Have a plan for your habit and a plan for getting back to your habit. Maybe it is a day or two off and then back. Maybe you decide that a week off your habit will work fine. Whatever you decide, make sure you know that one slip doesn't mean you failed. Just get back to your habit.
Step 5 – Letting Go.
Is there any thing or activity you can let go of? In order to create a new process in your life, you may need more time or space. Decide what things or activities no longer serve you. Be willing to let those go and use the freed time and space to help your new habit fit better into your life. It may be that you have to let go of some things that you still like, but you know they don't serve your goal and habit. Realize that letting them go is best for you overall.
Use these 5 steps to create lasting changes in your life.
Happy New Year!
Written By: New Hope Recovery Center
New Hope Recovery Center 888-808-4673 (HOPE)
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