It’s that time of year again – happy New Year for some; hopeful New Year for others. There are many rituals associated with one year ending and another beginning. We'll often acknowledge our ‘bad habits’ while making commitments to conjure up good intentions. We resolve to be better, do more, and eat less.
While New Year’s can be a great motivator to start making positive changes, it can also be overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, pretty soon it will be March, and we’ll find that once again we’ve dropped the ball on our resolutions. But at least we won’t be alone! They say as many as 90 per cent of all people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t see them through. So don’t despair.
The good news is you can start making positive changes any day of the year – not just January 1. In fact, it’s probably better to start any day other than New Year’s Day, because there will be less pressure to succeed.
If you’ve tried to kick-start yourself on January 1, and failed, don’t give up on yourself. Don’t simply continue to give in to the ‘bad habits’ you sincerely want to change. The best thing you can do is commit to making those changes, starting today. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life!
Stop relying on the calendar to tell you it’s time to make a change in your life. There’s no rule that says you have to begin anything on January 1. You can resolve to start any day of the year – including today. To help set you up for success, here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way, that I’d like to share with you. Today.
Be specific about what you want: It’s easy to say “I want to get fit” or “I want to lose weight.” But exactly what does that mean? Be specific about what you want to accomplish, and define it in your own terms. It could be “I want to run one mile without stopping” or I want to lose 50 pounds” or “I want my favourite pants to fit comfortably.” Before you can do anything, the first step is to be specific about what it is.
Know what you need to know: If you want to be successful – at just about anything – it’s essential to seek knowledge about what you’re trying to do. If you want to lose weight, learn about calories, foods, nutrition, and how to plan meals. If you want to run a marathon, learn about running gear, become familiar with running terms, and follow a training plan. Subscribe to magazines, read books, or use the internet for research. The more knowledge you seek, the more knowledgeable you will become.
Embrace the journey: Changes don’t happen overnight, just like a road-trip. You don’t get from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ in one shot. Rather, it’s a journey that takes you through various towns, stops for gas and food, and witnesses changing scenery. It takes time, but eventually, you’ll arrive. Achieving a personal goal is also a journey. Losing 50 pounds means shedding one pound at a time. Running one mile means first running one minute. Accept that transformations happen slowly. Instead of trying to do it all at once, embrace every little achievement along the way. Know that you’ll eventually arrive.
Seek support: Change can be difficult, so why do it alone? Find a friend with the same goal and do it together. Enlist a family member to confide in, find a personal trainer or coach, or join a meeting group or online community. When I quit smoking nine years ago – on January 22, I might add, not January 1 – my biggest support came from a ‘quit smoking’ website. People posted journal entries, sent messages, and encouraged each other. This group of virtual strangers truly helped me quit for good.
If you resolve to make changes this year, it’s never too late. Whenever you are ready, set your mind to it and start – on any date. Learn what you need to know, and be prepared to take it slow. Accept that you’ll make mistakes and probably slip up along the way. But whatever happens, its okay.
Just remember, making changes is a journey to be taken one step at a time, one day at a time. No matter how many times you veer off the path, if you maintain your resolve to get back on track, you will reach your goal.
Eventually you’ll arrive.