At the start of a New Year, many people feel motivated to change something. They start with a firm resolve to end a particular behavior or engage in a new one. But usually, after a few weeks, the resolution gives way to a lack of interest and ultimately is altogether forgotten. If you want to make a change, there are some things you can do to strengthen your chance of success.
Five Keys to Success
Be Certain You’re Ready. The first key to success is to be sure you’re ready to make the change. Every resolution represents a loss, and you want to be sure that you are prepared to let go. I’ve seen many people quit smoking on January 1st, but they feel too crazy to remain abstinent by lunchtime. It is better to successfully give up something than to force yourself to give up something that will only lead to failure. If you’re going to make a tough change, plan for challenges, and make sure you have a set of tools to get you through the tough spots. Take the time to read about how other people succeeded and then draw from that pool of wisdom. Once you feel confident you can keep the commitment, then you are ready to start.
Commit to the Goal. The second key to making a permanent change is to be sure you’re willing to make a long-term commitment. It’s easy to keep a short-term promise, but a year is a long time. So, before you swear off anything, be sure you are ready to keep the promise and that you sincerely want the thing to which you are committing. Then, think of your goal as something you will work on every day so that you can reap the benefits of success rather than a jump start followed by failure.
Develop A Plan. Once you decide for sure, your goal is more easily accomplished if you have a set plan to get you from one day to the next. Then map the plan out on your calendar. Have a start and end date with measurable goals. For example, if you want to finish a project, make sure you have the project broken into segments, with deadlines written down for each component. If you want to lose weight, write down your current weight, the end goal, and then a plan to achieve the outcome; foods, exercise, scale, etc. IF you want to save money, determine how much, and then develop a daily plan; less spending, more saving, extra work., etc.
Each day, be sure there is some type of behavior, no matter how small, that aligns with your ultimate goal. Make sure you record your success and have some kind of reinforcement for yourself at specific intervals. Maybe you want to share with someone, plan a celebration, or just want to see a bunch of gold stars on your calendar. Make sure you acknowledge your success. Have a picture of your goal where you can see it every night and every morning – on your bathroom mirror or your screen saver. Since you have a whole year, there’s no need to rush or risk burn-out. Keep your eye on the goal; no one ever got a hole-in-one by looking 100 feet ahead.
Ignore the Saboteur. Our minds have a way of creeping up on us and telling us that we should give up on our goals. It’s very subtle but relentless. If we aren’t anchored to a bigger picture, we will veer away from the vision. Stopping a behavior is easy; maintaining the change is not.
A Course in Miracles tells us we all have an ego, and it’s out to get us. It’s that voice in our heads that is relentlessly advising us, and it’s always wrong. It is the voice that will change the plan, skip a day, ignore the instructions, and then makes you feel guilty when you fail. This voice does not want you to succeed. This voice has one mission: to rule your life into misery.
Stay Motivated Through Self-Love.
A New Year’s resolution is an act of self-love. When your thought leads you away from your goal, it’s telling you that you aren’t important enough to stay on track. That same part of your mind will convince you to stop the new behavior and go back to your old ways. But remember, as soon as you do, that same voice will beat you up for failing.
You are worth the effort, and the more energy you put into achieving your resolution, the better you will feel about yourself. You are mastering old behavior and taking control of something you’ve ignored for too long.
Even though most of your support will come from yourself, be sure to get encouragement from other sources as well. You can join chat groups, meetings, and places to keep you connected to positive influences. Avoid naysayers and stick with people who want you to succeed. Most of all, do this for yourself. No one will ever love you more than you love yourself.
Join our movement.
Donna Marks believes that the models for diagnosis, treatment, and addiction have failed. Her mission is to help save at least one million lives by 2030, through education and prevention. She has been an author, consultant, educator, public speaker, licensed psychotherapist, and addictions counselor in private practice in Palm Beach, Florida for more than thirty years. In 1989, Dr. Marks developed a chemical dependency treatment program at Palm Beach Community College, that has since grown into a four-year degree program, and for which she was granted an Award of Appreciation. She became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987. In 1989, she earned a Doctorate Degree in Adult Education, then became a Certified Addictions Professional, Certified Gestalt Therapist, Certified Psychoanalyst, Hypnotherapist, and Certified Sex Therapist.
Dr. Marks is the author of the 22-award winning book, Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure.
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