The new year for many of us is a time of renewal. We feel inspired and enthusiastic about making change. As the clock strikes midnight our best intentions pour out of us and we make all sorts of promises to ourselves about how this year will be different and better than the last.
And now that we are at the beginning of February many of those hopes and dreams for a new and improved life are fading away. This is the time when most resolutions are abandoned or at least begin to wane.
Lack of results, old habits and self-sabotage have a lot of power in our brains. We are often our biggest obstacles when making changes. We have to fight ourselves in order to continue our self-growth. Here are some of the strategies I use to combat my own negative thoughts and actions when I find myself getting in the way of creating habits that are important to me.
First we need to ask ourselves is this dream something truly important to us? Often we make New Year’s resolutions based on what we think we are supposed to do instead of focusing on what will actually make us happier or more fulfilled. When we are not authentically connected to wanting to change we have an incredibly hard time making change happen.
When I am struggling with making a new habit stick and I am repeatedly failing at my attempts to incorporate it into my life I will take a second look at it and make sure I am passionate about wanting to make that change.
Change is often very hard but if we truly want it, it is always possible! When we are sure about wanting to shift we give ourselves permission to make mistakes and then try again instead of giving up at the first signs of failure.
Once we have reestablished that this is a change we want to make for ourselves we need to create a really detailed, specific plan. Saying to ourselves ‘I want to have more money’, or ‘I want to be thinner’ isn’t going to make them happen.
Broad ideas are a just that…ideas. When we build a well-organized plan, focusing on shifting one habit at a time, we steadily begin to move toward that bigger desire. By breaking it down into manageable and actionable habits we create a success rate that will be so much greater.
For example, for the idea of wanting more money, a simple habit could be ‘I will take coffee to work each day for the month of February and put the change I would spend buying coffee into a savings account’. Or for wanting to be thinner, a simple habit could be ‘I will walk for 30 minutes 3 times a week for the month of February’.
We are one of our harshest and most hurtful critics when we attempt to make positive changes in our lives. We speak to ourselves with such negativity when we fail or fall back to our old ways. We beat ourselves up mercilessly for making mistakes and not getting the results we predict we should have.
Can you imagine ever speaking to a loved one with the same callous disapproval that often fills our thoughts about ourselves when things are not going as we hoped?
Shifting how we see ourselves is essential to our success! I begin each day with a series of positive affirmations which are encouraging, caring and loving toward myself and my abilities. This practice helps me to feel that I am good enough just the way I am and that in this moment I am exactly where I am supposed to be. When we are kind to ourselves we have a much better chance of continuing to be motivated to try.
BE REFLECTIVE AND CELEBRATE!
Instead of beating yourself up for not getting instant results (so unrealistic) savour the small shifts and notice what is different from one day ago, one week ago or one month ago. This is a process. Enjoy the challenges instead of letting them feel unbearable. By being curious and open to learning about ourselves we create opportunities for even bigger things to happen than we can even imagine.
Taking a moment each day to be grateful that we are trying and that we are growing as a person allows us to fuel our determination and positive outlook. I like to journal every morning to reflect on my life, being thankful for all that is going on. Celebrating life’s journey with gratitude allows us to feel more confident and peaceful with the ebb and flow that will naturally occur with any dreams we have.
There will always be challenges when we choose to transform behaviour that is strongly entrenched in our daily lives. We will face difficulties and we will want to give up sometimes. Just remember you are not alone, everyone feels this struggle.
If we look for the joy in aspiring to make our dreams come true we can turn that struggle into part of the process. Instead of letting struggle derail us, we can accept it and embrace it. By finding ways to acknowledge our efforts positively we will reaffirm our continued belief in our dreams, making any challenge we face worth it! Please send me a note if you want to discuss this topic at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!