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I Want to Change Everything Now- and Other Resolution Breakers
"I will loose 40 pounds and work out at least 4 days per week."
"I will go back to school at night and find the perfect day job."
" I want to meet and marry the man of my dreams and buy our first house together by this time next year."
It's New Years again and many people are thinking about what they would like for their life in 2006. So begins the annual ritual of making promises and setting goals? If you are like the majority of resolution-makers, you have a history of coming up with a great list every December that energizers and inspires you in January and is all but forgotten by March. Why is it that so many people start out with great intentions, yet fail to achieve them, year after year?
The reasons have to do with the goals themselves, the lack of a clearly defined plan for implementing them and with a difficulty many people have of staying the course when gratification may not be achieved for some time. In a nutshell, we want it all, we want it to come easily and we want it now. Sound familiar?
So, how do we go about effectively setting, implementing and following through with those important yearly promises we make to ourselves? The following are my best tips for 2006. They are sure to get you on the right path and help keep you focused and determined throughout the next twelve months.
* Don't attempt too many changes all at once
Too often people set themselves up for failure by setting the bar so high that it is virtually impossible to reach. Then, when this becomes evident, it seems the only path is to let go of something that was unrealistic to begin with. Instead, come up with a list of one or two changes (additions) that you would like to achieve. This will help to ensure that you have the time and resources available for success.
* Come up with a concrete action plan for your resolutions
This step is one of the most critical. You need to break your goals down into objectives and under these, have action steps laid out. In case you are unsure of what these are, they are the who, what, when, where and how questions that must be answered in advance of successful change.
An example of this would be to take a goal of losing 30 pounds and breaking it down according to these questions. Your plan would look something like this:
I will eat breakfast every day.
I will walk one mile around the track every afternoon as part of my lunch break. If I don't have enough time for both, I will adjust my schedule to have a longer lunch or leave earlier in the day, etc. Or I will go to the gym 3 evenings a week directly after work and use the weights and the treadmill for 45 minutes.
I will plan to have no more than two desserts weekly. I will choose these in advance and make them a part of my meal plan.
I will bring a healthy snack to work each day instead of going to the vending machine on my break.
I will not eat in front of the TV. I will sit at the table for my meals and not snack during TV viewing.
I will not take out fast food more than 2 times per week. I will make a meal plan and cook at least 5 times per week. It can be very simple and quick, but must be prepared by me.
These arte only a few examples of action steps for weight loss. You could also include things like using a personal trainer, consulting a nutritionist or hiring a weight loss coach- to name a few.
* Write down you action steps and check them off daily
Make sure you write your action steps into your calendar and plan for them as you would for an appointment or social engagement, etc. You will need to provide yourself with visual cues until they become a daily habit and part of your comfortable routine.
Making little notes to yourself and putting them on your medicine cabinet mirror, fridge and/or other places you find yourself every day is a good way to help keep you on track. You can write them as affirmations and praise yourself for better living and for recognizing your own value and caring well for your needs. Everyone can use a pep talk and this is something you can provide to yourself until others begin to see evidence of the positive changes you are making.
* Take it one day at a time
When we look too far ahead of where we are now, we can get discouraged and overwhelmed by a sense that it is too much and will take too long. All change is a process and it happens with "baby steps." Living each day better will result in better weeks, months and years. Try talking to someone who has made a substantial and positive change in his or her life. Ask them how they did it. I guarantee that part of their answer will address the need to take it one day at a time and to not get discouraged if yesterday you got off track. Each day is a new one, and you can pick right up where you left off.
* Avoid all or nothing thinking
Not every day will go as well as the one before. You may have many good days and you work towards your desired goals. However, you will have moments, hours and days when you feel discouraged, sorry for yourself, angry, frustrated, etc. These will be your vulnerable times. Planning for them in advance helps. If you can anticipate some rough spots, you can get your defenses set up. For instance, if you know that your birthday is an event that triggers sadness and perhaps dysfunctional behavior- talk with friends and family and make a plan to spend it doing something you enjoy that is good for you.
If you have a bad day where nothing seems to go right, (join the crowd)- do your best to stay on track. If you get off, beware of that false belief that "all is blown now." That is the all or nothing thinking that will sabotage your efforts at any real change and keep you from turning dreams into reality.
Today is the best time for putting your resolutions into action. So, sit down and come up with no more than 2 that you would like to work on (for now.) Then write these down with action steps under each one. Don't forget to answer those what, when, where and why questions in advance. While you are at it, allow yourself to think about the delicious changes that 2006 could have in store for you.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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