Resolution time comes at a very difficult time for many people. The reasons may vary. The weather, family commitments, and even life itself. We tell ourselves, “this year I’m going to [insert resolution here] and stick with it!”, but then the general time passes. Around mid-February, the resolution is put on hold until next year.
1. Work That Brain!
Our brains are muscles and have muscle memory. The more you work it at one particular action, the more your brain (and therefore you) get used to that action. But our brains also like to kind of sabotage us as well – because you’re working it and it may not like it. Just tell yourself (and therefore your brain) it will get better. . .KEEP IT UP!
2. Make a Realistic Change
So, I get like 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I’ve been that way for years. So if I decide that I want my New Year’s resolution to be, “get 8 hours of sleep a night” I’m setting myself up for failure. What’s the point? So I plan for 5 hours of sleep a night and work my way up. The point is, don’t set yourself up to fail.
3. BE PATIENT!
Yeah, I am not a patient person. AT ALL! I want instant gratification. Who doesn’t? But the fact is, it took however many days, weeks, months to get the action you want to change in place, it will take days, weeks, and months to change it. This is where number 2 comes in to play. Being patient at small changes leads to the big changes!
4. Fight Against Yourself
Don’t be absolute when you want to change. Give yourself some “mulligans” if you will. Some leeway. It’s okay if you end up falling off plan. Get back on. If you’re so strict on yourself when you color outside the lines, you’ll find yourself giving up all together.
5. Encouragement EVERYWHERE!
I like to post little notes in key places around my home to remind me of the change I’m working on. The bathroom mirror, the fridge, above the television, and even in my car! Little motivating reminders. These can tell you that it’s okay if fall off course, or simply that YOU CAN DO IT!!!
6. Write it Down!
Keep track of your plan. Journaling can be very cathartic as well as a great way to look back and be reminded of why you started your journey. Or to get out frustrations when you feel like giving up. It can also be a way of potentially seeing when you MAY be wanting to give up. And when you’ve reached your goal, you have a time line, a biography of your journey to remind you how far you’ve come.
7. Get Others on Board
Sometimes it’s the thought that we MUST do these things on our own. However, if you decide you want to stop drinking pop, but the rest of the people in your house are still drinking pop and it’s in the fridge every time you open it, then what do you think will happen? Will power is a wonderfully difficult thing. Some people may be able to stay away. . .but let’s be realistic, most of us can’t. So talk to the people around you. Get them in on the action. It’s more fun that way!
8. Give Yourself Small “Prizes”
So you went seven whole days without any pop. Or chips. Or without spending money on take-out. Reward yourself! But not with the item or action you’re trying to change (that kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?). Plan little, itty-bitty rewards for yourself to look forward to as you move along in your journey. That little incentive can be just the push you need when times get tough!
9. Don’t Try to Change the World
Trying to change too many things at once is just a set up. Eventually some of the resolutions will fall off as time and willpower claim those for their own. The danger is that once you’ve lost a couple of your resolutions, the rest may tumble. Think of it like a game of Jenga. You have a ton of actions you want to change stacked up, and slowly some begin to pull out. All you’re doing is increasing the chances the whole plan will fall.
10. New Year, New You. But Does That Mean Right Away?
Give it some time. No one said that it doesn’t count as a “New Year’s resolution” if it does’t happen within the first week of the New Year! It’s okay to wait. Changes can be made any time! Especially if the change you want to make is contingent on the weather and you live in a place like me (Michigan).
For example, I really want to fix my falling apart deck. And this year I am actually going to do it (as opposed to the last 3 years that I kept telling myself I would). Obviously, as there is snow and a wind chill of -10 degrees, I’m not going to break out my tool belt and get working.
In the end, just remember that plans for change take time. When you’re talking about changing a behavior that has been “normal” for a long period of time, it can be difficult to just up and change the way things are. The important thing is to not beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out. If by March 1st you’re no longer working that resolution, look at revamping your idea instead of giving up altogether.
The act of wanting to change is the first step.