I love how inspiring a new year can be. We leave behind last year’s worries, bad relationships and work frustrations with the intention to start fresh and make the most of the year to come. It’s a chance to take up cycling, travel to a new destination, or simply slow down a little more. As excited as we may feel working towards our resolutions in mid-January, many of these ambitious goals fall by the way-side by March. Before we know it we’re back watching Friends re-runs and drinking one too many martinis on a Tuesday night – so much for that early morning pottery class.
Why does this happen? Why do most people make the same resolutions year after year without ever accomplishing anything? The difference between people who make things happen versus those who simply give up is habits. We are products of our habits.
Being able to recognize, isolate, and change these habits is the only way to accomplish lasting change.
When we are out of our comfort zones we make the most progress in any area of life- business, spirituality, fitness, relationships– staying in the same cozy routine doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Risks reap rewards.
Here are some tips to reach your goals and make healthy habits stick. Whether it’s losing ten pounds, getting a promotion or simply learning to be on time, remembering these tips will make a difference in your journey for real change.
1. Pick one thing at a time and do it now
There’s nothing more impossible than trying to overhaul our routine, habits and personality all at the same time. There are very few people who can effectively get in shape, change careers, volunteer with the elderly, and start a knitting club all at once. We are products of years of doing the same things, the same way, over and over again. We do not change quickly.
Pick one thing and stick to it. That way you can focus on it and after thirty days of consistency, whatever you’ve chosen to change, learn or exclude will feel very natural. For added inspiration watch this video http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html
2. Offload your power onto your environment
Schedule your time, don’t tempt yourself with bad food, develop self-control, prepare for success. Look at the fillers in your life – what is your tendency to do in between meetings, meals or phone calls? Do you scroll around Instagram or do you write a thank you card to someone, read an inspiring article or take some deep breaths?
If you know that when you go home you’ll sit down in front of the computer searching for the end of the internet every night, take your exercise clothes to work and go straight to the gym afterwards. You may feel tired after a long day but a few minutes into lifting weights or running will be energizing and refreshing.
If you always get a pastry with your morning coffee, invest in a coffee machine for your house and brew it at home. This will save you money, reduce paper cup use, and protect you from some seriously unnecessary calories and butter.
Discover where your weakness is and plan to avoid it. Develop an opposite, healthy action that will help you realize your goal.
3. Seek good company
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Think about that. Who are your closest relationships with? Do those people inspire and motivate you, or do they enable bad habits and detract from your growth?
Find people you admire and spend time with them. Get coffee, play tennis or make a dinner together. Positive, inspiring people are extremely energizing and can make challenges seem a lot more manageable. Don’t know where to meet these people? Find a meet-up group, go to a Chamber of Commerce Event or attend Toastmasters. There are exciting, interesting people everywhere who love to connect. Find them and develop genuine relationships. It will change your world.
4. Think of others
If you want to be miserable think about yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own troubles and worries that we feel we can never change or accomplish goals. Sometimes you have to forget about fighting habits head on and go and help someone else. By being of service to those less fortunate we increase our capacity for love and find more gratitude in our own lives. We must learn to be happy and consider others’ happiness as our own joy. Find children to tutor or volunteer at an animal shelter once a month. It’s worth the effort.
5. Be cheerful
Make up your mind to be happy. Have confidence in yourself and in your life. Surprise people with light heartedness and be kind to strangers. Be grateful for everything and consider obstacles to be tests of your character. If you’re reading this article you have access to a computer, which means you probably have a bed and a home and an education. These are big blessings that we must be thankful for every day.
Take this opportunity to choose one thing you want to change and start today. Be resolute, write it down and make a brief plan. Good luck and happy new year!