It is getting to THAT time. You know...the time toward the end of January when all of the resolutions we had made for 2018 start to slip away and we can feel ourselves sliding back into old ways. That time when we can start to get down on ourselves for not following through with our goals. You may even begin to attribute this lack of "follow through" as a characterological problem and use it as confirmation that you are not good enough, weak, or lack the ability to change. Of course, none of these things are true.
So instead of getting down on yourself, remember: Change takes time. In fact, leading research on habit forming has found that it takes an average of 66 days for an behavior to be performed automatically. So, rather than getting down on yourself about failed New Year's resolutions, start focusing in on what you CAN do to achieve your goals. Here are some tips:
Be Intentional. Creating goals should be thoughtful. If you make a New Year's resolution on a whim, then you will get haphazard results. Think of goal setting as a process...sit down with a cup of coffee and reflect on what you really want to see change in yourself or your life. Then plan on how you are going to make it happen. If this feels overwhelming, I suggest using a goal setting tool to help provide some structure (either a daily planner with a built in reflection/goal setting component like this or employing the SMART goals technique). Try a couple things out and figure out what feels most comfortable for you.
Stay Focused. This is a tip to those of you who get all jazzed up about it being a New Year and feel like there is some imaginary reset button that you can press and start over with a WHOLE new you. Whether we like it or not, we are creatures of habit. Trying to change too much at once can cause you to stray from your norm, which can result in feeling frustrated and wanting to call it quits. As someone who can also fall victim to this mindset, I have found that it is best if you prioritize your goals and pick one or two to focus in on achieving. Then, 3 months down the road you can add in a couple more after your initial goals have started to become habits and take less mental energy.
Be Flexible. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is the best way to keep yourself feeling positive and not burn out. So, when (not if, but when) we begin to stray from our intentional, focused, and personally created goals, it is important to allow for flexibility. There will be times that it feels harder to maintain your new desired routine, and that is okay. Think of it this way: If you are driving somewhere and find out that the road is closed on the route you were planning to take, you typically do not sit and wait for the road to reopen… you find another route. Similarly, if your goal was to go to the gym 3 times a week and you are finding it difficult to get yourself in the door, ask yourself if there other modes of exercise that seem more enticing to you at the moment? If you have hit a roadblock of resistance in yourself, do not fight it head on but find another way to take a step toward your goal. After all, doing SOMETHING is better than nothing, so any small change can keep the momentum toward making progress on your goals.
Happy goal setting!
Are you too busy for 'self-care'? Don't have the luxury to take time out of your day to meditate or go to a yoga class? My On-the-Ready Wellness blog will give you practical, low-cost tips for improving your overall mental health and wellness.
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