By now you are sure to be back in the routine of work, and your holidays are unfortunately a distant memory. Perhaps even the New Year’s resolutions that you were so enthusiastic about have also gone the same way. If so, here are some tips to revisit those commitments and make them stick.
1. Forget multiple resolutions! Focus on developing a single new habit or making a single change at a time. The more simultaneous changes you try to make in your life, the more difficult it is. So choose the one that will be most meaningful or have the most impact. Applying the Building Resilience Step ‘What do you really, really want?’ will help give you the focus you need.
2. Set a goal, but focus on the process. Sure, you need a goal that is realistic, measurable and time bound. That’s old hat. What’s really important is the small steps you need to take every day to reach your goal. If you want to lose weight, then reduce or eliminate sugar in your beverages and fizzy drinks and avoid alcohol. If you want to stop smoking, then don’t get into situations where people invite you to go for a smoke.
3. Make small changes. Making lots of small changes over time will result in the big change you desire. Counter intuitively, making small changes over time is also more sustainable than making a quick big change. I have recently got back into running again after having had a forced lay-off. I can’t wait to get into shape and start training for Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon. My heart wants me to immediately start running at my previous speed and distances again.
My head however tells me that I need to be very cautious about running too fast, too soon and to slowly build up my daily running distance. This gradual approach applies to losing small amounts of weight as much as it applies to working steadily each day on your studies to pass an exam at the end of 2012, rather than trying to cram at the end of the year.
4. Phrase it in a positive way. I find this really useful when trying to develop a habit or make a change that involves NOT doing something. Its more motivating to me to achieve something positive rather than to continually remind me of the present failure I have with a resolution. So Dont be impatient becomes Be more patient. And Dont drink too much alcohol and caffeine becomes Reduce my alcohol and caffeine intake.
5. Create thoughts and feelings that will assist. Visualise having achieved the goal. See your new behaviours working. Feel how proud you are of your achievement. Regularly revisit these thoughts and feelings to keep your end goal strong in your mind. When battling to finish my book on resilience, I found it was really helpful to image holding the printed book in my hands, what I will be able to do with it and how people will use it to further develop their resilience. These thoughts and feelings pulled me thorough writers block on many occasions.
Tips 6 to 10 will be presented in the next blog.