New Year Resolutions and how to make them last
Written by Helga Marin www.healthmindbody.net
It all starts with a thought. That is the only way it can start. All creation and change in human beings starts with a simple thought. But thinking is not enough surely actions must follow.
Popular new year resolutions are to become healthier, fitter or thinner. Most of us are able to take the first action step. Entering the New Year, we are filled with the hope of a healthier and more prosperous life, and greater achievements. As we start exercising every day, eating tons of greens and vegetables, we feel great about our new start.
Somewhere along the way, it becomes too difficult to maintain. That is where it all goes wrong. Something unexpected happens, like marital or career problems, and all the effort goes down the drain. We convince ourselves that veering off the new path we’ve taken is only temporary. We will soon be on track again. Most of the year goes by before we realize that we never got back on track. But again, another new year is on the horizon, so we can try again. New resolutions are made, only to be forgotten again, and the cycle keeps repeating itself seemingly forever.
Interestingly, the time on the right track gets shorter and shorter every year, until the time is almost unnoticeable. So here we are again, in early 2012, facing a new year thinking that this time everything will be different. But to be realistic, what is the difference between now and last year? Do you have more knowledge, motivation, time? Have you hired a trainer, nutritionist, or life coach? Have you made sure that this time you will not only take the first step, but continue, until you reach your goal? Have you formulated a bulletproof plan that will not fail?
In reality, most of us don’t have a plan. We just assume that by thinking about it, it will all happen without any noticeable effort on our part. Even though we know our thoughts are powerful, it is not always enough. Thinking about our goal is one thing, and it is in fact the first step to creation as mentioned earlier, but our actions need to follow. As our thoughts shifts away from our desired goals to the stress we are experiencing, lack of time, or the temporary gratification we think we are missing (often in the form of different unhealthy foods), our experiences become exactly that, and we can no longer achieve the life we dream of with all its good fortune and prosperity.
So how do we achieve a long lasting change? How do we in fact achieve any goals?
Thinking about your goal is a good start, but not enough. The thought has to be specific and detailed, and then an action plan must be made. And even though you might not know every single step to your goal, you must know how to get started. Some of our goals may seem too big to achieve. Maybe you want to lose fifty, sixty, or seventy kilos and you just don’t see that as a possible target. By starting with one kilo, and then two, and so forth, you are focusing on what is possible. That keeps you on the right track. It is only overwhelming when we focus on the whole fifty kilos that we want lose, instead of breaking it down into accomplishable smaller steps that added together equal fifty kilos.
By using CANEI (constant and never ending improvement) every day, you will eventually achieve your goal. If you ask yourself daily, “What can I do to improve my lifestyle just a little bit?,” you will slowly reach your goal.
Focusing on the long term goals rather than short term goals is only one of many mistakes people do when attempting to change their lifestyle. Another mistake people do is that they focus more on what they don’t want instead of what they do want.
When I first started working with weight loss I used to give people 2 lists. One list had all the foods my clients should avoid eating and the other list included all the foods they should include in their diet. I soon found out that instead of following my plan my clients were suddenly eating more of the unhealthy stuff than they used to. At first I thought the reason was that the forbidden food became more exciting because it was forbidden which was true to certain extend but later I found out that it was also my clients focus that created the craving. By looking at the forbidden list every day created thoughts around that food and automatically increased the cravings. If you have experienced going on a diet where you think more about the food you want to avoid than the food you want to eat you have most probably experienced this…….that your cravings for unhealthy food increased.
I therefore came up with an effective strategy that I believe is the key to creating new and better habits long term. Firstly I suggest that you focus only on food that you know is healthy for you, if something unhealthy comes into mind, shift your thoughts towards a healthier substitute. Secondly work on adding healthy foods to your diet instead of excluding unhealthy foods. Think about it, what is easier, adding or excluding food from your diet? Adding is easier because you don’t feel deprived. By adding bit by bit healthy food you slowly push out the unhealthy stuff without noticing it. I suggest that you decide that all foods are allowed and that you always have a choice what you eat. Make each choice consciously and think about what feels good to eat for your body and for your mind. Following this simple strategy not only facilities changing your lifestyle but also helps you to create changes long term without too much effort. .
Lastly I suggest that you ask yourself every day what you have achieved that is going to bring you closer to your goal. Focusing on achievements instead of failures motivates you to stay on the right track. I also suggest that you find a way to reward yourself every week for achieved goals and that you celebrate your success with something other than food.
Remember that changing your lifestyle is all about creating new habits. By systematically improving your habits, one at a time, you can dramatically improve your overall lifestyle. Develop the habit of changing your habits!