*With four more days until the New Year there is lots of talk about resolutions, getting in shape, losing weight, finding a new job, working towards finding a significant other, starting a job search, giving up swearing, and so on, and so on, and so on.
The end of the year often brings the need to reflect on our past and to resolve to do better in the future. It, unfortunately, can sometimes become an exercise in futility. Why? First on reflecting on the past, because we often only recount what happened, and we don’t take the time to pull apart how we could have done things better, as well as what things we should repeat. Secondly, on resolving to do better in the future, because behavior modification doesn’t often come just because we say it will. Aristotle said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Trust me, I know how hard the “repeated behavior” can be. Mine sometimes goes a little something like this, it’s Thursday, I should go to the gym, but why not just start on Monday. Well, since I know the big day is coming on Monday, I eat a little more from Thursday to Sunday, believing that I’ll burn it off when I start back at the gym. That’s just one example, but there are many. I’m sure you could add a few.
Well, if we’re truly going to be successful at changing our behaviors, then we have to set ourselves up for success. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
1. Know why: You need to know what motivates you and if it’s strong enough to make you change. I.e. losing weight for health reasons, saving money for a more secure future, finding a new job for greater fulfillment.
2. One at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to conquer all of your new changes at once.
3. Write down what you want to accomplish. Here you can make the entire list of changes, but commit to changing them one at a time.
4. Get your support system in place. Having accountability to someone(s) can be very helpful in ensuring that you follow through.
5. Get a personal message. You need to have your personal mantras ready for when the negative thoughts of self defeat creep in. They are coming and you need to be able to talk yourself off the ledge in the moment.
6. Put rewards in place. Give yourself credit for doing well. I.e. when I get to Friday without having sweets, I will allow myself one Hershey’s kiss. It doesn’t have to be big and certainly not sizable enough to give you guilt.
7. Avoid setback situations. Don’t be arrogant in the journey. If you know packing your gym clothes at night, leave you vulnerable not to make it to the gym, always pack your clothes. If you know going to the mall makes you want to spend money, don’t go unless you are focused and have a plan to get what you need and get out.
We can experience even greater success in 2013 by simply taking time to set ourselves up for success.