January is the time when we feel we need to turn the page, when we mistakenly imagine that the advent of the New Year will magically provide us with motivation, perseverance and a new outlook. Traditionally, the New Year is considered the ideal time to start a new stage in life and the time when all important New Year decisions must be made. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also the worst time to make a major change in your habits because it is often a very stressful time.
But don’t set yourself up for failure this year by promising to make huge changes that will be hard to make. Instead, follow these seven steps to successfully embrace these changes.
Choose one target
If you want to change your life or lifestyle, don’t try to change everything at once. It won’t work. Instead, choose one area in your life.
Make it something specific so you know exactly what changes you plan to make. If you are successful with the first change, you can go ahead and schedule another one in a month or so. By making small changes one by one, you have the chance to be a completely new person to yourself and those around you by the end of the year, and this is a much more realistic way to do it.
Don’t choose solutions that are bound to fail. For example, run a marathon if you’ve never run and are overweight. Better decide to walk every day. And when you get rid of excess weight and shortness of breath, you can move on to short runs, increasing them to the marathon.
To ensure success, you need to study the changes you make and plan ahead so you have the right resources on time.
Read about it. Go to a bookstore or the internet and look for books and studies on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running, yoga, or going vegan, there are books to help prepare for it.
Plan for your success – prepare to make sure everything runs smoothly. If you’re going to be running, make sure you have running shoes, clothes, a hat, and everything you need. In this case, you will have no excuse not to start.
And there will be problems, so try to anticipate and make a list of what it will be. If you take it seriously, you can imagine problems at certain times of the day, with specific people, or in specific situations. And then find a way to deal with those problems when they arise.
Choose a start date
You don’t need to make these changes right after the New Year arrives. This is the conventional wisdom, but if you really want to change, choose a day when you know you are well rested, enthusiastic, and surrounded by positive people.
Sometimes the date picker doesn’t work. It is better to wait until your entire mind and body is fully prepared to take on the challenge. You will know when the time is right.
On the day you have chosen, start doing what you have planned. Set a reminder on your phone, a mark on your calendar, anything that shows you that today is Day X. But it shouldn’t be something rude to yourself. This can be a simple notation that creates an intent:
If you fail and smoke a cigarette, skip walks, don’t hate yourself for it. Write down the reasons why this might have happened and promise to learn from them.
If you know that alcohol makes you want to smoke and oversleep the next day, you can stop drinking it.
Persistence is the key to success. Try again, keep doing, and you will succeed.
Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going through the first days, which are the hardest. You can reward yourself with anything from buying a rather expensive but interesting book, going to the movies, or anything else that makes you happy.
Later, you can change the reward to a monthly one, and then plan a New Year’s reward at the end of the year. What you are looking forward to. You deserve it.
Whatever your plans and goals for this year, good luck to you! But remember that this is your life and you create your own luck.