With the New Year rapidly approaching many of us start to think about resolutions we can make. Maybe it's to get healthier so we resolve to eat better. Maybe it's to get fitter so we resolve to join a gym or running club. Maybe it's to stop smoking or drinking? The list practically endless and because it's the start of a new decade maybe you feel there's extra pressure to make one?
The trouble with resolutions are that they can be notoriously difficult to stick to. We start off well but after three to six weeks we falter and soon fall back in to our old habits. We then spend the rest of the year cursing and berating ourselves because we've failed, yet again, on keeping a promise to ourselves. After all that is all a resolution really is. No one is making you do it. No one is checking up on you. It's a thing you've done for you!
So first of all give yourself a pat on the back for making the decision to make an improvement in your life. Secondly don't beat yourself up if you don't manage to maintain it.
I'm hoping the following tips will help you to start your self improvement. 1. Once you've decided what you want to do write it down. Then choose small goals and set yourself little targets which will eventually lead you to success in your bigger aim. When you've achieved that little win set another one all the time moving closer to your desire. It is important to be methodical and realistic; it's not wise to run a marathon with no preparation or training. Speaking from personal experience I've found setting the main objective easy but getting there difficult. After trying different things I realised that the advice I give to actors and musicians is relevant to this too...take it in bite sized chunks. You're not going to learn. Take each day, each moment, each minute at a time. So for example if you want to get fitter make your first goal to join a gym. Goal 2 can be to go once a week for a month. Goal 3 can be to achieve a ten minute jog on the treadmill. And so on...all these leading to your resolution.
2. Falling off the wagon, not keeping a resolution and experiencing the same outcomes year after year is enough to make anyone lose faith! This is where re-framing the issue can work wonders. To continue the previous analogy a lot of students struggle with sight reading and a lot of actors struggle with improvisation. To the first I say “Don't think of it as sight reading, think of it as learning a new piece.” To the actors I say “If you can't improvise, just make it up.” While I appreciate the second one can be taken as a glib comment it is meant sincerely. Yes, there are techniques for improvising but if it's something with which one struggles then just going for it and making something up is better than not trying in the first place. Rather than saying “I always fail when I try to give up smoking”, re-frame it. First of all, what are you GIVING UP? Giving up implies that it is a sacrifice. You're sacrificing poisoning your body on a daily basis? You're sacrificing your shortage of breath? Etc. So instead of giving up, you're going to STOP. Again take it one moment at a time. If you can get past the first half of the day then try for the second half. If you can manage the first day, go for the second day. If you can manage that then the third day will become easier. By the fourth day the nicotine has left your body so the addiction should start diminishing. Smoking and other things we want to stop doing are simply habits therefore change the habit and change the outcome. Yes that is almost over simplifying it but I don't have the word space to go into more detail...that'll be saved for another blog.
3. Don't think that you have to do your resolution on your own. Find a friend to do it with or enlist the help of a friendly Life Coach ;-) If you have support and can support each other that's brilliant and if you don't have support then reward yourself. For example, each day you succeed in committing to your resolution put a pound in a jar then at the end of the year you'll have over £360 to spend on a treat for yourself!
These are just three ideas and there are so many more available!
Use the New Year to become a New You. Book some Life Coaching, or take advantage of our One Question One Answer offer.
On New Year's Day I'll be talking about how a change in perspective can change your attitude and make for a happier life for you and those around you.
Until then stay calm. Relax. Write down your resolutions and take that step every day.
Read my story about the Red Leaf and remember the answers are always there.