Did you accomplish any of your New Year’s Resolutions from last year? If so, congratulations! But for some of us, the annual habit of making a list of what we’ll do (or not do) for the next 12 months just isn’t working any more. We start with great goals, perhaps we’re going to exercise every day, or learn to play a musical instrument, or swear off cookies for the rest of our lives. But a day, a week, a month into the New Year and these big goals just seem unattainable. We haven’t become a different person, which is good. But it means we also haven’t tackled those resolutions.
So instead of resolutions, why look instead at ways to live your life every day, and every week – not as an entirely new way of living, but just by adopting one small habit.
Focus on Slow and Steady
Change is hard. Start with one small habit you want to change; one you are confident you can accomplish. This could be something as simple as drinking a glass of water every morning when you wake up, or reducing the cups of coffee you drink by just one cup. Track how you are doing, forgive yourself when you miss, but see if you can keep up your intention for a week, then another week, until you’ve reached a month. 30 days is a suggestion length of time to establish a new habit, so celebrate! You did it. Now pick something else.
Consider replacing one bad habit with a good habit. Giving something up or making a big change is forever. You don’t need to do that. Instead of giving up your television snack, switch from chips to popcorn, or from soda pop to sparkling water with a bit of juice. This helps you get used to change gradually, and not feel like you’ve totally gone in a different direction.
Track and reward: Make a list of a few things you’d like to add or adjust in your life each week and see if you can check off just one or two items. These could include things like: take a walk, call a friend, meditate 5 minutes, enjoy one meatless meal, etc. Give yourself “rewards” for checking off items, perhaps your favourite coffee or a new magazine.
Pick fun over “must”: Instead of resolutions, make a list of enjoyable things you’d like to do over the next year, put photos of these activities on your wall to remind yourself of these goals and why they are special to you.
Change from “checking goals off a list” to making a “positive focus” list. This is a list (or conversation with someone close) that you make at the end of each week, perhaps on a Friday night. Review the week and name three “positive things” that happened that week. We tend to inflate negative experiences and dismiss the positive. By remembering a kind word, or a small triumph, you can keep focused on what is going right in your life.