‘Tis the season to make New Year’s resolutions, so let’s take a look at yours! Check the following list to see if you have done all you can to set yourself up for success in sticking to your plans for a more healthy lifestyle.
Specific behavior-change plans are easier to stick to than vague resolutions like ‘I will lose ten pounds.’ If your resolution is vague, then add a specific plan of action that will guide you toward your goal. Rather than ‘I will exercise more,’ how about ‘I will go to the afternoon aerobics class on Tuesday and Thursday, and work out in the weight room on Monday and Friday.’
Change For The Right Reasons
When Socrates said, ‘To thine own self be true,’ he might have been talking about making behavior-change plans. Research has shown that negative feelings are a frequent cause of relapse in behavior-change programs, and resolutions that feel like punishment cause negative feelings. Resolutions must be perceived as changes that will help you progress toward a higher level of optimal well-being in all spheres of your life. Don’t decide to change a behavior just to please others or because you think people will like you more if you change. Your decision to change a habit must be perceived as something you are doing to take better care of yourself and something that will eventually help you get more out of life.
Maybe the behavior you wish to change can dovetail with other goals. Do you need to exercise and spend more time with your family? How about a trip to the park where your children bike while you walk briskly? Do you want to meet some new friends? Take a class that reinforces your goals and helps you to meet new people.
Believe In Yourself
Before you attempt to change a behavior, you must first have a change of heart. Reinforce your belief in yourself by finding realistic role models, people like yourself who are doing what you want to do. If they can do it, so can you!
Be sure your action plan is a realistic one that can fit into your lifestyle. Will you really have the energy to go out for that evening exercise class? Make changes as easy and convenient as possible.
What could prevent you from sticking to your resolutions? Cold weather? Illness? Fatigue? Lack of time? Make a plan for coping with the inevitable obstacles of life. Most of all, don’t let a few days of relapse turn into a year of unfulfilled resolutions. Life is a compromise; do the best you can to get back on track as soon as possible.
Have Fun And Get Involved
It’s easier to stick to your plans when you feel good. Replace the rewards of your old pattern (if there were any) with something else. Trying to eat less fat? Be sure your food is still delicious and enjoy your meals. Make your life as pleasant as possible during this period of behavior change. Get involved in activities that help you feel happy and fulfilled.
Build A Support System
Get the support of family, friends and co-workers. If your resolution involves quitting a serious addiction like smoking, drinking or compulsive eating, get professional help and join a support group if possible.