It’s common for people to consider making a new years resolution that is going to make a positive differences to health, well being and or lifestyle.
The motivation for your new years resolution is underpinned by it being January 1. Given this is a single day out of the whole year, that initial drive can quickly wane.
To make beneficial change is a good thing and to be applauded. When thinking about change that you want to stick to, then there are several things to consider.
I use these methods in my counselling and coaching practice.
Consider what the goal of you new years resolution is. This might be for instance to stop smoking.
The first thing is to put this into positive terms of what you do want to do, rather than what you don’t want to do. So this might be; ‘To overcome my addition to smoking’.
Now the focus is on ‘overcoming your addiction’, a tangible concept of what you will be doing rather than what you will not be doing.
Next question; how will you recognise when you have achieved your goal. This might be when you haven’t smoked for three months.
Outcomes are the impacts of achieving your goals. The desired outcomes are the motivators for initiating change and maintaining the new behaviours. So the primary outcome and motivator may be improved health such as reducing the likelihood of lung cancer.
The observable outcome may be that you are able to see your smokers cough reduce and to be able to walk/go upstairs/run without getting out of breath.
Your long term outcome may to live long enough to see your children form committed relationships or see your grandchildren grow up.
Secondary outcomes may be to save money and to prove to yourself you can do it.
The goal and outcomes are then underpinned by the Pro’s and Con’s. These provide the recognisable value and weight of your initial decision compared with reasons you might use to sabotage yourself.
Improved health I will get irritable
Stop coughing May put on weight
Save Money Will miss sharing a cigarette
Role model to children Having a beer won’t be the same
Stop smelling of smoke Use smoking to relax and unwind
Sense of pride It’s my only treat
Beat a compulsion/addiction
Stop harming myself and others
Improved quality of life
You want the Pro’s to outweigh the Con’s. If they don’t then the change is unlikely to be successful.
Prevent Self Sabotaging
Identify how you might self-sabotage your new years resolution. This could be recognising how when you might when with friends who are smoking and be tempted. I might drink too much or get stressed out.
Being aware is being prepared. Maybe you can inform your friends and ask them to help by not giving you cigarettes or inviting you to smoke with them. If drinking too much maybe you can take gum with you. If getting stressed, you can practise breathing techniques.
How will you handle temptation when, not if, it manifests. Before initiating the change, list a series of distractions. It helps if these are physical such as walking, housework, gardening exercise, going for a drive, going shopping.
Use active awareness. Recognise you are being tempted, observe how it feels and say aloud to yourself, ’John/Sue you’re being tempted, you know this would happen. You are beating the compulsion – Well done!’. Talking to yourself in the third person can provide effective self-support.
Setup a support network ready. Approach friends and family beforehand and ask for their active support. When it gets tough talk to them face to face or phone them. Have them involved in and part of your success
Set small incremental goals with recognition/reward after each. This could be after 1 day watch that programme on TV you wanted to see. After 3 days an hour reading favourite book, 5 days listening to favourite music. After one week it might be go for something to eat.
New for Old
Then put in place something new. The gap that is left when a change involves stopping one activity is better filled by replacing with a new activity.
Start a new hobby, visit new places, learn a skill, study a language, join a group. Do something new and affirming. Fill the gap, replace old with new.
Lastly be that successful person you are and enjoy the benefits of change.