Okay, it’s the second week of February. You have been diligent in sticking to that New Year’s resolution:
- Lose that last 10 pounds.
- Stop taking everything so personally.
- Expand your professional network 3 fold in 6 months.
- Learn to dance the Argentine Tango.
- Decrease your cholesterol level by 40 points – Shout out to my sister who just completed this feat!
Or have you been edging off a bit, because of the weather (and boy have had some of that this year), school, works, family…? Establishing new habits takes time, practice, and some more time. To make a new habit permanent there are 7 important things you can do to make the process realistic and successful.
Spell it out and go for it. Know exactly what you want and make your goal specific, measurable, actionable, realistic (but not too easy) timeframes gives you a clear destination. Then you can break down the journey into “mini” short term and long-term goals, with a plan to each along the way. Spell out your goal in and put on paper, in your own hand- that will help to make the change present and real.
Track your habits. Most of us are not really aware of how much time we spend, inactive or in ways that do not serve us well like the amount of TV watched (Do you flip the set on soon after walking in the door?), or the surprising number of negative thoughts run through our heads each day. Keeping track of these things for a couple of days will be illuminating and yes, empowering. You can choose to do and think differently once you are clear about what your patterns are currently.
Reward yourself. After you set out your main goal and the mini goals that lead to it, build in a reward for each. We all like our “Scooby snacks” whether it takes the shape of an extra hour in bed reading on Saturday, going to a movie. Save the bigger rewards like say a side of prosciutto from La Quercia for achieving the big goals.
Manage triggers. Sometimes we just do things without thinking. Being tired after a long days does not equate with being too tired to exercise, that Zumba Fitness® class might be just the thing to jumpstart your energy. When I know I need to watch my weight a bit more closely, I avoid having tempting treats like a nice bottle of wine on the counter- that way I am not tempted to have glass of wine with dinner.
Talk it in to being. Okay, so “Abracadabra” will not work, but positive self-talk does work to support the meaningful considered actions you take. We all have a negative self-talk loop running. Be kind to yourself.
Acknowledge all your progress. Change takes time. You did not get to where you are right away and it will take time to get to where you want to be regarding your goal. Find a way to visually track the progress you make over time and celebrate each step. Make a special note of each major milestone you make, like finding 6 new referral partners in your professional network.
Lapse happens, live through it. It is better to aim for gradual lasting change rather than a cataclysmic sonic boom change – that minimizes the rough patches. You’ll have good days and bad days. You can plan ahead to high-risk situations like trigger events, and brainstorm some solutions to address the challenges along the way.