Maybe you are on the right track already. If so, well done, keep going!
Many aren’t though. So I have a question…
Why do we make it so hard for ourselves?!
When you are thinking about making a quick trip to the shop, would you leave the house without any preparation whatsoever? At the very least you will gather your keys, phone, wallet/purse, maybe a list, your coat, an umbrella or sunscreen, music for the car or for the walk.
Yet, most of us will say each New Year that we will give up something big, usually something we have come to use as a crutch every day (smoking, chocolate, etc). Or we think that we will become triathletes within a few weeks by imagining ourselves already fit (we never picture ourselves huffing and puffing with shaky legs in the early stages of a fitness journey!).
We make quick decisions on major life changes, but we do no preparation. Is it any wonder that by 5th January ‘resolutions’ has become a bad word.
But here’s the thing…5th January is not too late to make a small change. You don’t have to wait until 1st January next year to try again. Here are some facts and tips that I hope you will find reassuring.
Know and accept that change is hard. Changing long-practised habits is even harder. Don’t beat yourself up. It takes commitment, every day, to change old habits and create new ones. Inflexible commitment that doesn’t tolerate slip-ups is not going to help you. It will actually make you feel worse if and when you do trip up. All you need is the resolve to try every day, and most importantly to try again when you haven’t yet succeeded.
What would be it be like to try a flexible, kinder sort of commitment to yourself?
Instead of “From this day forward I will never touch another chocolate again – and if I do I’m a complete disgrace”, try “Starting right now, I will make another choice when I feel a pang for chocolate. If I slip up, I will try again the next time. And I’ll be better prepared”.
There’s the magic word…Prepare. Plan specifically for those times when you want to slip back into the familiar bad habit. When I say plan, write out your daily routine. Mark the times that you tend to feel your resolve waning. Stock the fridge, get the right exercise shoes or clothes. Put in place whatever you need to carry you through those wobbles.
You may need to test yourself answering the common challenges we face, for example…
Bad weather? “Doesn’t matter – I have the right clothes.”
Not hungry but craving a calorie-laden treat? “I will have a healthy snack instead (and my fridge is stocked full for just such an eventuality!)/brush my teeth/drink water instead”
Having a bad day and want a cigarette? “Look, I have all the nicotine replacements that suit my particular smoking habit at my fingertips – because I prepared for this moment”
Life is stretching out in front of you and it feels miserable if you can’t have a piece of chocolate? “I will set a short deadline for myself. I will avoid chocolate for 2/5/10 days. I won’t look any further ahead than that. I will review it at that stage, so I only have another few days to go, not a whole lifetime”
Don’t give up! If you need inspiration on this, think of any toddler you have met. I have yet to meet an otherwise healthy toddler who has not succeeded in learning how to walk, or who gave up the first time they toppled over! One study of 151 toddlers found that they fell an average of 17 times per hour while learning how to walk. They don’t berate themselves. They don’t give up. They learn each time and they try again. What resilient role models they are!
If you didn’t succeed yesterday, there is no reason in the world why you can’t try again – today, right now. And try again tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be 1st January on the calendar for you to succeed. There are 365 opportunities every single year for you to try again. And more than one of those days will be the ones where you succeed. What would be wrong with New Month/Week/Day Resolutions?!
What’s wrong with you making one positive choice for yourself. Then see how you go. Maybe make another one a few hours later. And sure, throw in a third positive choice or action for good measure within a day or two. Don’t look now, but you are already forming a new positive habit.
Here is to you being as stubborn as a toddler, and hopefully falling down less often than 17 times per hour!
P.S. ‘Your Best Year Yet’ is a personal coaching programme delivered by me personally that will help you turn those ‘Must Do That Someday’ LISTS to ‘Today is That Day’ REALITY.
For more information and to book see http://aslancoaching.ie/coaching/your-best-year-yet/