At this time of year many of us make resolutions or revive old resolutions. We are often inspired and energized to turn the page, release the past, and move forward. We want to be wiser, stronger, and more fulfilled. The challenge is not always starting the new path but staying committed to it. Here are a few pointers to help equip you for the journey.
1. Make a commitment to a lifestyle change not simply a push for quick results. When we do rush diets to quickly lose pounds we often end up gaining them back. Additionally when we decide we just want to be with anyone, we end up choosing people who are not good for us in the long run. So instead of thinking of simply changing your life in the NOW, you want to commit to changing the way you approach life in the short term and the long term.
2. Set realistic goals. Often we get discouraged because we set unrealistic goals and then fail. When we sabotage ourselves but setting goals that we can’t live up to for more than a few days or few weeks, we do ourselves a disservice. Don’t set your goals based on what someone else is doing or simply what someone else has said. You have to set goals that work for you. Be honest with yourself. Now honest doesn’t mean that you set no goals at all. It just means that you take the mountain one step at a time.
3. Accountability is necessary. When we don’t set any standards we end up continuing to follow old habits, patterns, and relationship cycles. You need to acknowledge what needs to change and what you are going to do about it. Think it, speak it, write it down, share it, pray about it, meditate on it, and monitor it. If I make a vague promise to myself that I’m going to do better financially this is meaningless. I have to spell out to myself what exactly that means. I need to be very clear about my aims in terms of my budget, my investment in my financial future, and the temptations that need to be avoided. Often it is good to share your goals with another person who can help you to stay accountable. If I decide to give up fast food, or soda, or sweets, it helps if those around me know that this is my goal. Name it and claim it.
4. Surround yourself with positive people. If you are trying to quit or cut back on fatty foods, smoking, drinking, gossip, procrastination, or unsafe sexual activities, then you need to be around people who support those goals. If the people I am around constantly attempt to discourage me and dissuade me from my goal, it will be even harder to maintain the change. With a new attitude you should also draw new relationships – connections to those who are striving for better and who support those who are trying to do better.
5. Remember a set-back does not mean surrender. The truth is change is difficult. Too often because we slip up we excuse ourselves from any further effort. If and when you find yourself going back to old habits, remember the reason you committed to changing in the first place. Think about the benefits of change, recall how good it felt when you were living in a more positive way, and then take active steps to get back on the path. A misstep doesn’t have to be the final step. Recognize it for what it was, consider what you need to do to avoid it in the future, and then encourage yourself to make the change again.