Why do so many worthy objectives – like eating more veggies, quitting smoking or losing that spare tire – typically expire by February? One behavioral study found that 98 percent of people who made New Year’s resolutions failed to create lasting change.
We love pleasure and dislike pain. Unless we’re really motivated, we tend to revert to comfortable habits, healthy or not. So how can you create positive, lasting change?
Set attainable goals
If you want to improve your life, prepare for success by setting realistic, achievable objectives that underscore your larger goals. For example, if you’re determined to trim that extra 20 pounds, resolve to incorporate simple daily habits that move you in that direction, such as drinking more water, scaling back on sweetened drinks, and walking for 30 minutes per day.
Beware of self-sabotage
If you’ve failed at your resolutions in past years, try to understand why. Some of us have stubborn mental blocks that must be removed before we can integrate new behaviors. Others need to abandon old excuses, such as “I don’t have enough time” or “I must tend to others first.” Since we make the time for what matters to us most, you should target the changes you’re truly willing to commit to.
A positive attitude provides you with a strong mental edge when it comes to creating healthy change. Don’t cut corners on your vision! Instead of settling for disagreeable conditions in your life, confront them one by one, gradually creating your ideal circumstances. You’re worth the effort, and you deserve to make this investment in yourself.
Track your progress
Keeping track of the strides you make, however incremental, helps keep you motivated. You might not lose 10 pounds per week, but you can see that you’ve replaced sodas with sparkling water, or that you’re now hitting the gym twice a week – steps that not only jump-start healthy weight loss but promote overall wellness along the way.
Most journeys are marked by ups and downs, and you might experience setbacks. The trick is getting back on track, free of the self-judgment that makes you give up. Play up the positive – and reward yourself for the strides you do make – with a massage, bubble bath, new book, or coffee with (supportive) friends. Treating yourself with compassion is surprisingly empowering.
You can do this! And once positive new habits become second nature, you’ll be amazed that you ever considered settling for less.