“If you don’t like where you are, change it; you’re not a tree.” – Jim Rohn
January is here – time again for resolutions, vows or whatever else we like to call them. For many, it’s about keeping with family traditions; for some, their pastor’s admonition is key, while others just find it easier to motivate themselves for lasting changes at the start of a year.
Whatever the motivations, what most of these resolutions have in common is that they are at best partly adhered to, and at worst jettisoned altogether early on.
Therefore, is it really possible to turn these resolutions into habits that stick? Are there people who can credit major permanent changes in their lives to resolutions?
These article will suggest 10 steps that can help ensure that our New-Year-Resolutions last longer than a cone ice-cream on a hot summer’s day and become habits that we can take into the next year and beyond.
Have a firm goal in sight
If we have an end in focus, it’s easier to stay motivated – wanting to quit smoking in the new year because our friends think ‘it’s the new sexy’ wont fuel our determination as much as doing so to nurse ourselves back to health or improve our overall image.
Be inspired by conviction and not petty competition
While it’s okay to measure our progress against other people’s to give us an idea of how well we are doing, it’s not so wise to initiate change in other to out-do someone or in ‘keeping up with the Joneses’
“Those who are driven by passion always find the strength to push on; but those driven merely by petty competition would give-up at the first signs of difficulty.” -Imbuedman
If a best friend starts a business in the new year while still in paid employment in the hope of resigning to be fully self-employed within two years, and we decide to follow suit , once the hardship of sleeping for just 4 hours a day becomes unbearable, we’re likely to quit. Our friend wouldn’t quit because he has a plan with a desirable end in sight.
One goal – diverse methods
For example, if we aim to be fitter and healthier, it’s not advisable that we rely on using the gym alone. If after using the gym regularly for the first two weeks of our fitness regime, we’re not able to use the gym for consecutive days due to heavy rain or gym renovation, it’s easy to lose our motivation and get used again to not working out or doing any form of cardiovascular activity.
We should devise other means of achieving this goal. For example, using skipping-ropes, dumbbells or threadmills at home. Watching fitness shows on ESPN helps too – nothing personally motivates me or gets my adrenaline pumping as much as seeing people happily working out with tangible results.
One change at a time
Difficult changes always require lots of mental strength, hence, we should avoid trying to change too many things at a time. I’ve also made the same mistake out of sheer excitement or over-zealousness.
The realization that we have no tangible result on any of our goals despite attempting many can make us so miserable we quit on every single resolution altogether.
It’s better to make three resolutions for a year and fulfil all three, instead of making 10 and fulfilling none completely.
When we have mastered a new habit or goal over a reasonable period, we can then initiate another – that way we can muster enough mental strength and focus for each one.
Divide the goals into tasks
Break down the goal into smaller manageable tasks. This helps us to determine what part of a problem we want to tackle first and measure our progress easily.
If we want to quit smoking, it’s not enough to stop buying cigarettes at the corner-shop, it may also require at some point that we stop going to the bar/club with our friends who are heavy smokers.
Take baby steps
Pushing ourselves too hard in any new challenge often leaves us exasperated and registers in our minds as stress.
As a result, you will need to psyche up yourself to pick up that activity again. After a while, procrastination sets in, till we stop altogether.
If we want to improve our bible knowledge, it’s better to take one chapter a day – gaining something tangible from the little we’ve read is the crucial thing.
On the other hand, if we begin by reading three chapters, chances are that bible studying somewhere down the line registers in our minds as stressful, boring and time-consuming.
Write them down/Use a reminder
It’s easy to get bugged down by the constant hustle of today’s fast-paced world and forget about that area of our lives that needs improvement.
Writing down our goals(tasks) and using daily/weekly reminders helps us to remain steadfast in pursuit of our goals.
We can make use of reminder alerts on our ubiquitous gadgets (iPad, Kindle), apps such as Wunderlist or simply write them on post-it papers and stick them on our dressing mirror.
Record your progress
This can give us the kick up the backside needed if we are short of our target or motivate us further if we are delighted by the tangibility of the results.
In the first week of exercising in a bid to lose weight, we may not see physical differences in our size, but if we measured our weight at the start and realize that we have lost 2kg after measuring at the end of the week, it will motivate us going into the next week.
Make yourself accountable.
Self-motivation/discipline won’t always work, at times we need someone else to remind, caution, warn, assure or praise us in our quest for change.
– A friend questioning our avowed financial discipline when they see us buying our 4th pair of shoes by the end of February could give us a reality-check.
– making your spouse a gym buddy makes it more fun, and she can also motivate you by assuring you about tangible results in your fitness regime.
Dust yourself up and try again
Lastly, be ready to stumble or fall. If mastering those new habits or goals was going to be easy, we would not need to resolve to change them in the first place.
“If at first you don’t succeed, you can dust it off and try again, dust yourself off and try again” – Aaliyah