10 Jan Resolution, Schmesolution: Tips on Making Change Stick
Every year, many of us set New Year’s resolutions. We espouse how much weight we are going to lose, who we are cutting off, and what bad habits we are letting go of. By March, most of us are right back where we started with little accomplished and sometimes in worse shape!
I stop subscribing to the whole “New Year” perspective a while ago in favor of monthly self-reviews and adjustments. It felt easier to tackle things a little at a time versus all at the beginning of a new year. I also found a monthly approach allowed me to re-calibrate my goals and celebrate the little successes. Here is what I have found to be most effective:
1. Set realistic goals. If you haven’t worked out consistently in three months then the notion that you are going to work out “everyday for the next six months,” is just silly. Instead, set a goal to move daily consistently for 20-30 minutes. This can be dancing around the house, taking a walk around the neighborhood, or active stretching . This was a great idea sparked by a sister friend of mine, who has challenged our group to move 30 minutes every day. By not confining yourself to the act of “working out” you are not stuck in a mindset of what that means and more likely to get out and do even more than your goal.
2. Establish ritual. If there is something you want to be more consistent about, make it into a ritual. Set aside time in your schedule to complete this task with active awareness. For example, I have committed myself to sitting at my personal altar every morning before I leave the house. My altar is set up to support my mediation with everything from candles to incense. Once I am at the altar everything stops for 20-30 minutes. and I can my intentions for the day.
3. Be self-centered, be flexible and prioritize. I used to set weekly calendars for the things I wanted to do, but as soon as one thing changed in my schedule, my whole day was thrown off. This also meant that things like yoga would take a backseat. That had to change, so I put myself first. Now, if I am determined to get a Bikram yoga session in at 9 am, but my schedule doesn’t work, I figure out where else I can make it work. Yoga is a priority for me these days, so if I need to reschedule a conference call, cancel a meeting, or miss a happy hour in order to get in a yoga session, I do it. This by far has been the most rewarding practice.
4. Record and Re-evaluate. However you choose to do it, keeping a journal, establishing a check list, calendar appointments, etc. keep track of your goal path. Every few days, check in with yourself and see how you are doing. If things need to be adjusted to make sure you meet your goals better, make the adjustments. Even if this means taking a goal off the list temporarily, it is better to complete a few goals all the way than a many goals half the way.
5. Embrace the shift. Remember why you are doing this. Think about how much better you will feel when you aren’t addicted to nicotine, or the happier you will be when you aren’t self conscious about your soon-to-be-gone muffin top. Also consider how much better you are to your family and friends when you are living a more balanced life. Lean into the changes you have set and enjoy the journey.
We attempt to make changes when it is in our best interest to do so, but rarely don’t think about what those changes require until we are smack dab in the middle of trying to make it happen. As you go about setting your goals in 2013 be mindful that the daily work is necessary and you are worth the effort. Now go out there and make it happen!
Got tips on how to make change stick? Share them in the comments section.