This time of the year is when most of us vow to change something in our life. We take life-affirming resolutions, we claim ownership of a better future…
We really mean it. This is it! We will exercise 3 times a week, we will save money every month, we will spend less on junk, we will… and by March, most of these new behaviors have petered out and we are back in our old routine.
Take heart, there are proven guide lines that really help with the process of sustaining positive change! As for any project, we need a vision, a plan, a few powerful tools and appropriate support.
The vision is our core reason for making the change. We know that if we change, the results will be such as. And we want these results bad enough to motivate us to make an effort, to alter our current habits. We DESIRE a different result. In our projected vision we are slim, fit, non-smokers, wealthy, our home is pristine, you name it… Hence the decision to take a step, to resolve and exercise, to eat well, to stop smoking or to ban clutter. We can SEE ourselves there and we LOVE that vision.
The plan is our course of action. We need one, it has to be clear, structured, precise and scheduled. Without a plan, we just toy with an idea. We need to take time to write down what exactly we want to obtain, in what form and when. At this stage we really need to define a goal that we objectively can reach! Other wise we will most likely drop off.
*Note: If we have a very lofty goal it is very wise to break it down in several sub-goals and work at these one at a time. For example: the final goal is to regain fitness, renew our looks and to belong to a new network. It is a lot all at once, but if we break it down we increase our chances to succeed. We can aim to loose those 25lbs first; then it will be easier to start running or exercise 3 times a week, then we can buy different clothes that fit our new weight and we will feel a lot more confident after these 3 steps, to join a new network, make new connections and share new habits. We can lay a 4 steps plan: 3 months for weight loss, 3 months for toning up, a blissful shopping spree on month #6 (yay!) and then 3 months to make new contacts. In 9 months we will be celebrating the results with some new friends. That is something DOABLE.
Each goal requires a specific written plan. It means writing down a new base-line for our daily habits, a target to reach and a date to reach it, some solid info data to refer to and reviewing who and what can be a support along the way. A precise plan equals a strong foundation. The clearer and defined the plan, the higher odds of succeeding.
The main power tools to use are our AAA insurance: Anticipate, Associate, Anchor.
ANTICIPATE: review (and write down) our assets, our strengths and our weak spots.Be aware of what our current positive habits are (healthy breakfast, keep a journal…) bank on them. Be aware of our natural abilities relative to the subject (love cooking, strong headed, enthusiastic) put them at work. Be aware of our weaknesses (tend to eat idly when watching TV, shop while hungry, love sweets) and be prepared (no junk food in the house, shop with a full stomach and stick to new shopping list).
ASSOCIATE: pair our new behavior with something pleasurable and rewarding (healthy and smaller, but gourmet meals; watch movies while exercising; buy fresh flowers instead of snacks); join a like minded group or network, ask a friend to join us, put money we save on cigarettes in a jar for a trip.
ANCHOR: the key of success is in repetition. Our old habits were new sometime in the past. Applying ourselves to do that one little step every day can bring us a lot further than we think. Repeating is essential. If we breach, we need to get back on track right away. Repetition is our best tool for re-patterning. Repetition is our fast train to success.
3 accessory tools that help a long way:
~Recording each step we take and the results. That is useful data for later and it keeps us focused for now.
~Celebrating victories. Let’s take time to acknowledge every little success! Let’s talk about it, pat ourselves on the back, treat ourselves with a reward, post it on FaceBook… Let’s celebrate.
~Making it fun! If we put some fun in our new pattern, we increase our chances to succeed dramatically. (Dancing madly til we drop can be more pleasurable than doing reps. If we do it, it’s all gain, no matter what it is we do.)
Also, it is good to remember why we started in the first place: pics, post-its, quotes, vision boards, anything that we will put our eyes on during the day to re-affirm our goal is good. I love all of the above and use them constantly in all my endeavors.
Positive perspective: there is no failures, only feed-back. We need to be supportive and loving of ourselves because blame and guilt do not work. They just don’t. Every step we take even if we are momentarily misguided, is data we can use for success. We might loose only 17lbs in 4 months instead of 20lbs in 2 months, but the fact is: shedding 17 lbs is a victory. Self love goes a long way.
Finally, and it might be my personal go-to booster: I CAN HAVE HABITS OR MY HABITS WILL HAVE ME… and you see, in my personal life, I want to be the Boss!
Happy new year, happy new you…!
*Empowering support is now available as personalized one-on-one coaching with me and small group workshops will be offered throughout 2015. Contact me for more info.