The New Year’s celebrations have come and gone. Lists of resolutions have been written. Diets have been planned, and gyms joined. Will this be like last year and the year before? By mid-February, will the list of resolutions be forgotten in your top drawer? Will your gym bag be moved to the back of your closet?
This year can be different from last year. Resolutions can be achieved, and you can become the person you want to be.
What undercuts New Year’s resolutions is the focus on the rear view mirror. We get in our own way by continuing to define ourselves by old behaviors and old thought patterns. Weight loss, for example, is difficult when we continue to define ourselves as overweight.
Change is hard
Our brains like order and consistency. So our days are a series of routines that we have become comfortable with. Any disruption in those routines becomes a source of anxiety, and the new behaviors—no matter how positive they are—are left behind in an effort to eradicate our discomfort.
Change is hard but not impossible
Here’s what you’ll need:
- An achievable goal
- A plan to move you towards your goal
- A series of identified markers towards your goal
- A safety plan for those times when the discomfort of change becomes intolerable
Your plan should identify the day-to-day behaviors needed to achieve the long-term goal. Begin each day by reminding yourself that the old behaviors were counter-productive. Then, identify the specific behaviors needed to get to the end of your day successfully.
Change your mindset
You are not an overweight person getting skinny. Redefine yourself as a person at the right weight. (Or physically fit. Or a nonsmoker.)
See yourself as the person who has achieved the changes you want to incorporate into your life.
It will be easier to maintain the new behaviors if you stop looking in the rear view mirror. Your new behaviors will redefine who you are. Be the person you want to be, and your behaviors will support your positive identity.
You won’t need to wait for another New Year, because every day will be a New Beginning.