Well, it's the start of another year and a time when many of us look at making those changes we feel we should in our lives. I often hear the proclamations such as, 'this year, I will be more...(determined/happy/successful)' or 'from now on I will...(go to the gym more/stop smoking/eat healthy) or even 'This year I will be...(the real me/a new me/not like the old me).
These are all admirable aspirations and no-one should ever be berated for trying to improve their lives or their physical or mental health. So why do so many of us fail at our resolutions and how do some people succeed?
Any time is a great time to make positive changes in your life, but there are times/events that make it more of a clear division between the old and the new such as birthdays, birth of a child, death of a loved one, a health scare and of course, a new year. What makes the new year special for all of us is that we all experience it at the same time and therefore we can often be forced into making a change when we are just not ready. To make a change in your life is a big thing and takes some thought and planning. All too often new year comes around and we simply send out a wish for a change, rather than making the plan necessary for it to stick. He are three ways in which the changes you want can become reality.
- Make a plan. If you want to do something more (exercise/eat healthy) or do something less (drink/smoke) then you will need a plan of how you will do it. To add something into your life takes planning to include when you will do them, any cost involved, what would you be doing at that time that needs to be done another time? To add something means that something else is being replaced. Plan for it and build it into your schedule. To do less of something equally requires planning for what will fill the gap left behind! If you remove something from your life, you will naturally be left with a hole, a hole that the brain will want to fill, and the easiest thing to fill it with is the same old thing you tried to stop. By replacing it with another activity or action will bring about a much easier transition.
- Tell people about your plan. There are two reasons why you should tell as many people as you can about the changes you are making. Firstly, they can be a great source of strength and support. They can encourage you and even make the change with you. Secondly, the power of positive peer pressure is a wonderful thing to enlist. People will often continue with a goal or a plan simply because if they don't everyone of their friends and family will know they have failed and that is just embarrassing! Or at least that is what the mind tells you. It produces a heavier force than quitting. Imagine a set of scales in your mind. On one side you have the changes you want to make, weighing down with the effort and resources needed to do them. If there is nothing on the other side the mind will simply say that it's not worth it and encourage you to quit. However, if you have all of your friends and family on the other side, it can produce enough force to counteract the challenge of sticking to the plan.
- Set yourself goals and don't beat yourself up if you don't reach them. Setting goals, especially small, achievable ones, is a great way to measure success and create a sense of achievement in the mind. Compare it to standing in a long queue at the post office. How would it feel to wait where you were when the line ahead of you is moving, only to move forward after a long gap has opened up? Pretty frustrating right! especially if you were standing behind that person! The mind likes and rewards successes, even if they are small and as simple as taking a step forward when you can. So every thing you do towards your goal should be seen as a small victory, which will release endorphins in your brain and make the next victory that much easier. If, however, you slip and fall on your way, you shouldn't beat yourself up about it. The negative emotions attached to failure are much stronger than that of victory and need to be controlled that much more. It is an evolutionary trait from when doing something right meant just another day of survival, where doing something wrong could end in death. When something goes wrong with our plan we often feel the urge to just give it all up and walk away. If you are able to recognise this urge for what it is (a genetic throwback) you will be much more able to deal with it.
You will have noticed that in these three tips I have not mentioned seeking help from a therapist once. That is because not everyone may need to enlist the help of a professional to achieve their goals. If however, you find that making the changes stick just too much, or that there are things that are blocking your success, then talking to a hypnotherapist can really help in overcoming them. After all, the mind holds the seat of control and who better to give you back the reigns than the people who can navigate it?