Five Steps to Creating Lasting Change
Happy New Year Everyone! Wow, 2016! A new year, a new you, right? Many view the kicking off of a new year as an opportunity to ‘start fresh’, set new goals, and hopefully change some of the less than desirable habits we may have formed over the previous year. How many of us optimistically set lofty goals on January 1st only to find that come mid-February we’ve fallen off course or abandoned our goals completely? What started out as fierce determination can quickly turn into disappointment, frustration, and maybe even feelings of guilt around a lack of will power or an inability to follow through.
So how do we create lasting change?
Get Inspired: What is it you hope to achieve this year? What are your goals on a personal, professional or spiritual level? Whatever they are try writing them down. A good way to get inspired is by really understanding the ‘why’ of your goal. Why is it important for you to create this change? What benefits will such a change bring to your life and sense of wellbeing? Having a firm idea around the reason(s) to do something and keeping that in perspective will help fuel your desire to follow through with your goal.
Take baby steps: Too often we think of New Year’s resolutions or goals as an ‘all or nothing’ type of thing. This can make even the idea of change seem daunting, like an insurmountable mountain. Instead of going all out try to make one small change to begin, this kick-starts the change process. For example, maybe your goal is to eat healthier. Rather than trying to revamp your entire diet all at once, start by changing one thing, such as replacing your daily diet coke with water.
Make small incremental changes every day: The idea is to not become overwhelmed. Look at the big picture that forms the idea around your goals – you may be part of the way there already. Sometimes all it takes are a few tweaks to your current routine to get you there you need to be.
Forming a habit: Adopting several small changes each day is the first step in the process of habit creation. And once you know how to create a habit you’ll be able to leverage them into creating greater change in your life. Try setting a goal where you consistently adhere to the changes you have decided to make – maybe start with one week. Then, evaluate what you felt worked, what didn’t and what you think you can do to either help you stay on track, or, challenge yourself further.
Celebrate the small things: Each time you follow through with one of the small changes you’ve set out, force yourself to celebrate it. I’m not suggesting you celebrate your healthy food choice by rewarding yourself with candy. Rather, give yourself a pat on the back, fist pump, or ‘way to go.’ It may seem silly but the emotion of celebration will help you appreciate the work you did to implement the changes.
No matter how small the change might seem, remember that we all have to start somewhere. Success and failure are not measures of success as life as we all know, is hardly black and white. Be kind to yourself, be true to what you want to achieve and always know that whatever you did to better yourself on the first day of your new year’s goal action plan, is more than you did the day before.