January has FINALLY come to an end. In what felt like the longest month on record, many of us found the new year enthusiasm fading and along with it, our new year resolutions. I know there is the temptation to say, “Forget it! I’ll try again next year,” I’m here to say you’re not going to do that this time! It’s only one month into the year, so you still have eleven more months to accomplish your goal and I’m going to share some tips with you to help you do that!
1. Forgive yourself: At this point, you are beating yourself up and the negative self-talk is in overdrive. Please understand, the habit that you are trying to break did not get created overnight. In some instances, it’s been years of your life living with this habit. Parting with this habit and replacing it with something new is going to take some elbow grease. It is not going to be easy, if it was, you would have done it a long time ago. Setbacks can be an important part of the change process. Patience and forgiving yourself is the name of the game.
2. Adjust your mindset: It is never to late to start again. As long as you have life in your body, you can start again and again and again. You may experience a few slip ups before this change becomes ingrained in your life, but with the right mindset you can do it! Tenacity and resolve will be the mental muscles exercised and strengthened during this time.
3. Choose one thing: The first reason, many new year resolutions fall away is due to over-reaching. Trying to quit smoking, cut back on sugar and quit procrastination is too much to take on all at once. Focus on one change at a time. When you succeed in achieving your goal, you can move onto another one.
4. Re-frame it: Many resolutions are framed using negative language. We say what we want to stop doing rather than what we want to do. If you want to change a behaviour, it means you are replacing it with something and that is the wording you need to use. For example, instead of saying I am going to stop procrastinating, replace it with I am going to complete my tasks on time or instead of I am going to stop pressing the snooze button on mornings, replace it with I am going to leave the house by 6am every morning. The objective is to focus on a positive action that you’re going to perform in the situation rather than the old behaviour.
5. What’s your why?: Understanding the deeper reason why you want to make this change is an integral part of achieving your goal. If your why is not strong enough or not clear enough, you will struggle needlessly to accomplish your goal. Knowing you why gives you clarity and confidence to make better choices. It acts as a filter through which every decision that you make passes.
6. Establish a plan of action: Willpower will only get you so far. Having a plan with goals and strategies will help you over those hurdles when willpower is in short supply. For example, if your resolution is to establish a healthy eating regime, then meal planning and preparing your own meals will be strategies to help you accomplish your goal. You can prep your meals on Sunday and put them in separate containers for each day. Without it, you will be tempted to eat whatever is available and derail your goal. If your resolution is to join the 5am wake up club, you can set your alarm to wake up 15 minutes earlier every day, in this way you can ease into the change, thereby giving it more traction. Developing a plan and breaking it down into bite sizes also beats the overwhelm factor, which leads to stress and with it the death of any motivation you had.
7. Envision your success: Visualization is a very neat mental trick whereby you see yourself as already achieving your goal. Use all your senses; see yourself standing proudly as you tell someone what you have achieved, see in your mind what are your wearing, feel the sense of accomplishment surging through your veins. The beauty is you’re your subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. It will therefore act upon the images you create as if it has already happened.
8. Enlist the help of others: People who succeed in their goals very often have one major ace up their sleeve: support. Sharing your resolution with a friend can go a long way in helping you stay motivated. If you can’t find someone in your circle who you feel supported by, there are online entities like Audacious Evolution available, where you can find like-minded individuals who will be happy to act as your accountability partner.
9. Take advantage of technology: There are so many tools available, both free and paid, to help you achieve your goals, the biggest challenge may be choosing the right one. Tracking your progress daily, setting up reminders, participating in social competitions and other activities will go a long way in helping to maintain your resolution for the long term. Using technology to track your progress also means that you can make necessary adjustments to your plan when one approach isn’t working.
10. Celebrate small wins: Recognizing milestones and celebrating them increases your motivation and willpower to stick to your goals. It also gives you the confidence to keep going. One point to note though, try to use strategies in keeping with your resolution, so rather than eating that slice of cake, try getting a mani/pedi done.
11. Be kind to yourself: There will be good days, bad days and all in between days. Being kind to yourself, managing your negative self-talk and indulging in little luxuries, such as a warm bath and a nice hot cup of tea at the end of a hard day, will keep your sanity as you work towards your goal. Remember this change that you are trying to implement will take a lot of energy and will power from you. Self-care will be a critical part of achieving your objectives.
12. Progress not perfection: It’s cliché yes, but so very true. No one is perfect. Trying to be perfect can lead to intense self-criticism, which deflates your motivation and puts you at risk of quitting. Focus instead on the journey you are on and the immense growth you would have accomplished at the end of it. Enjoying the process cements your belief in your ability to change, as well as, takes the pressure off thereby giving you space to experiment with new approaches to see what works and what doesn't. This is a much more sustainable way to achieve success.
Implementing a change requires commitment, patience, compassion with the person we are the most critical of: ourselves. With the right tools, it is not impossible.