It is that time of year again. The trees have given up their leaves, the days have grown shorter, and colder, and the old year is getting ready to pass with the hope of a new one just on the horizon. It is a moment in our year when some might think about the accomplishments of the preceding months while others likely have lists of things yet to do. For many, it is the season of New Year’s resolutions and the contemplation of change. In our best, most inspired moments, significant change is easy to contemplate, but putting those thoughts into action can be challenging. How many of us have surrendered the noble dreams of a New Year only weeks into January? If you have, you are not alone. However, there are strategies that can help to set you up for success and ensure that your resolutions will stay with you as the trees regain their leaves, and the days grow long and warm. The following is a brief list intended to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
- Have a plan. You will be more successful if you create a concrete plan of action. Instead of making a resolution to “lose 20 pounds”, make a resolution to exercise four times a week for 30 minutes. Take the opportunity to be even more specific. Make a list of the type of exercises for given days of the week. Mondays might be a walk at lunchtime, Tuesdays could be a yoga class after work, Wednesdays can be a gentle stretch and calisthenics before work, etc. The more concrete you can be in the planning process the higher your success rate will be. Whether you write your plan down in a journal or a calendar, or download a habit app like Way of Life or Habit List, these tools can help you get organized and assist you in the planning process so you can stay focused on your goals. A few MINES employees have tried these and can tell you they work great, but there are many others that may be better or better suited to your needs and span both android and iOS.
- Be realistic. Perhaps in your most inspired moment you set your resolve to exercising 30 minutes, four times a week. Revisit that resolution. Ask yourself if that is realistic. Would every other day be more manageable? Or just weekends? Set yourself up for success by being realistic. Commitment in smaller increments is always more doable than overwhelming yourself. You can always revisit your plan. Once you have reached the smaller goal with consistency, you might ratchet your commitment up a step. But pace yourself! You do not want to burn out before you begin to experience positive results. There is a reason that the phrase “one day at a time” appears on bumper stickers and posters frequently—it works. Also, be sure to celebrate the small steps, instead of waiting to until you have fully reached your goal.
- Know why. Why do you want to change? Do you need to change? Or are you feeling the pressure of societal norms? You will be more successful at reaching your goals if your resolutions align with your own personal desires. You are more likely to be invested in the process of change if it is something you truly believe in. If the change is congruent with your personal values you will have a deeper understanding of why you want to change.
- Have support. Telling a friend, family member, or co-worker about your resolution will ensure that you will get the support you need. The people you choose to tell about your new goals will help you stay accountable. Being public about your resolutions might also lead you to someone who would like to join you on your journey. You may also consider helping to support others in reaching their goals. Watching and helping others can, in turn, inspire you to continue your efforts and ensure your resolutions will last.
- Be patient and have compassion. Remember, change takes time and it is a natural part of the process to slip up or “fall off the wagon.” In these moments it is important to be kind and compassionate with yourself. If you made a resolution to cut back on eating sweets and you have a night where you eat a whole box of cookies, don’t beat yourself up after the fact! For one thing you might already feel ill from too much sugar. Just gently remind yourself that you have a concrete goal and a specific plan that will allow you to get right back on track. Do not get discouraged or give up because of a few slip-ups. Tomorrow is a new day and you can pick up from where you left off.
Putting New Year’s resolutions into action is not an easy process, but if you consider these tips they can ensure that the changes you make will last well into the year and can eventually become habit and a characteristic of the new you! Keep in mind; any time of the year is an appropriate time to make a resolution. We at MINES and Associates wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!
To Your Well Being
Alea Makley, MA – Clinical Case Manager
The MINES Team