With the New Year right around the corner there's a lot of excitement surrounding the plans for positive changes and resolutions. You may have begun to lay the groundwork with ways to make your life changes successful, or you may just be hoping for the best and winging it. You also might be harboring some fear of failure, or the belief that you'll probably fall back into old habits. You may see the changes you hope to make as a huge uphill climb or overwhelming task that you're already beginning to dread.
If you fall into the latter category you may need to take a step back before moving forward. Creating healthy habits does take time, but be sure to give yourself a pat on the back when you have earned it.
Often we are so concerned with moving forward that we don't stop for a moment and reflect on how far we've already come.
Learn from mistakes, but also successes.
Look back over the years and consider the times you accomplished your goals and created positive changes, not just where you messed up. Although it's always good to learn from our mistakes, we can also gain valuable information by focusing on what worked before and apply those techniques again now.
Prepare for the unexpected.
Were there moments in the past when a life event triggered a negative response or a relapse into bad habits? You probably already know what situations may leave you emotionally vulnerable, so prepare an action plan ahead of time to stay on track. For example, if you're working towards eating healthier and you've had moments of weakness when you feel sad, plan for this by:
Creating a new distraction.
If you reach for unhealthy snacks when you're upset, create a new positive distraction. When you feel the need for comfort, plan that instead you will lace up your shoes and go for a 15 minute walk, or do a 5 minute meditation.
Replacing bad snacks with good ones.
If you know that your weakness is chocolate, toss the candy bars and instead only buy fair trade 70% cacao dark chocolate. Make your family or roommates aware that you'd rather not have the unhealthy snacks in the house, and see if they would keep those items in a separate off limits cupboard. They might even be willing to make a healthy change too!
Experiment with different techniques.
If you're planning to make changes that you've never attempted before, try attacking the goal from different angles. For example, if you're trying to exercise more but have difficulty getting up early, try doing your workout at night before dinner. If you are working on finding a new career but often get distracted by the desire to watch TV shows, set aside a chunk of time first thing in the morning.
Try using to-do lists, calendar tracking, or appointment reminders to stay motivated. When a particular technique begins to work, keep applying it!
Be aware of your limits.
If you need to say "no" to going out with friends in order to relax or recover from an illness, or take a night off from exercise in order to recharge your batteries by watching a movie or TV, be okay with your decision. It's always beneficial to take a break rather than burn out. Just be sure that you don't use a rest night as an excuse to divert from your path. Plan ahead for when you can make up for any lost time.
The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on our successes of the past, and use that information to implement a plan for real results in the future. Here are even more tips and tricks for success!