We’re one week into the new year, which means you and many others are probably working hard on at least one New Year’s resolution.
The new year often brings lofty goals about our health, relationships, or habits, all promises to use this new start to live well and with real richness. It’s a time of renewed hope, and we all love a new beginning – a chance to make things right, to do it right this time.
Maybe in the past week you’ve:
- Joined a gym.
- Started taking yoga classes.
- Committed to spending more time with your spouse or children.
- Bought a healthy cooking book.
- Decided to go back to school.
- Vowed to finally start looking for a better job.
These are all good goals. It’s great to take a stand and make the decision to bring positive change to your life.
The trouble is, for way too many people, about 3 weeks from now, our will slowly begins to deteriorate, and old habits will threaten to creep back into our lives.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to make positive change in your life, and it is possible to have that change stick.
You just have to know how to approach it.
The All-or-Nothing Mindset: The Reason Most Goals End in Failure
Most of us start the new year with an all-or-nothing mindset. We’re going to do it all (right now) or we’re going to do nothing at all.
- “This time, things are going to be different!”
- “I’m going to lose all the weight by March!”
- “I won’t rest till I have a new job with a 50% raise!”
And then we push ourselves to make big changes as soon as humanly possible. And it fails, because that much change in that short a time frame is almost always unsustainable.
Small Steps: The Key to Lasting Change
Here’s the key: Make big plans, but take small steps.
Decide on the big change you want to make. And then break that down into 10 small steps you’re going to make on your way to the big change.
Rule of Thumb: One Step Per Month
Here’s a rule of thumb: in my experience, most people are only able to introduce one step from their overall change play every 3 to 4 weeks. To make it simple, plan to take one step per month toward your overall goal.
Looking to eat healthier? Great!
Maybe in this first month, commit to cutting out soda and replacing it with sparkling water. When next month comes, go ahead and cut down on the red meat you eat and replace it with an added serving of beans and vegetables. And so on.
Do this consistently and before you know it, you’ll look back on 2015 and find that you’ve managed to create new patterns of behavior in your life, without the boom-then-bust syndrome that so many people experience when trying to make big changes.
Big goals, small steps. It’s a caring way to gently move yourself to the fantastic new year you’re looking for.
I know it’s not as glamorous as some of the flashy options you see in the commercials this time of year. Just remember, it’s not a sprint. It’s about creating real, lasting change for you and those around you.
If you’d like help along the way, that’s what we’re here for. Give us a call, any time.
Here’s to a happy new year, one where you offer yourself a serving of both compassion and caring change.