New Year’s resolutions re-visited
IS there a secret formula for making resolutions stick? The resounding answer is no! However, there are some guidelines that are worth taking into consideration when making resolutions.
1. Why am I trying to change?
Never make life-changing decisions to please other people. Do it for yourself, or else you will feel frustrated and worthless at the end of the day, because you will never be able to always live up to the expectations of others. Ask yourself this question, ‘how will I become a better person from developing this new habit?’ Don’t change to please your boss; he may very well pass you over for the promotion even though you did everything he asked. Don’t do it for your spouse, he may still find something else that needs to change for him to stay and even when you try, he will leave anyway. Do it for yourself. Become your own critic. Take a hard, honest look at yourself — in the mirror if you have the privacy to do it. Take your clothes off, remove your makeup and undo your hair, let anything that naturally hangs, hang. Victoria must not share this secret moment nor should Hanes have a hand in it. This is all about you. Then say this statement, ‘I want to become better so that I can feel better about the face of the person that I see’.
2. What am I trying to change?
Set specific goals. Be sure of exactly what areas of your personality you are trying to improve and write it down. Don’t underestimate the power of written words to hold us accountable and remind us when we are off-track.
3. What are the things that I will need to do, to make this change happen?
Break down the things that you are going to change into simple steps. There are days when you will get it right and days when you will not. That is OK. The reason why it is called a habit is because you have to practice it over and over again until you get it right. The habits that are the hardest to change (the ones you keep re-writing every year), write those last on the list. Write down simple the ones that you can do everyday first. One of the key ingredients in developing a new positive habit is self-discipline. If you learn how to discipline yourself in the small things, you will have some amount of experience to help guide you when dealing with the bigger things. Don’t see your old habits as one more thing that is wrong with you, or they will make you feel low and stressed out. Think of the new habit that you are trying to form as one more little change that can make a big difference to how wonderful you already are. By the way, everyone has good qualities in them. Find yours and write them down.
4. What are some of things that can make it hard for me to stick to my change?
We are very aware of our own weaknesses. We may not readily admit them to others, but we know when they are summing us up correctly. Write down the things (including people) who you know will make it very challenging for you to stick to your plan to change and write down what you will do to overcome this obstacle. Knowing in advance is having the power to make a plan for change or to cope.
5. What happens when I feel like giving up?
If you are asking this question then it means that you have having trouble keeping the promises you have made to yourself. There is no easy 1-2-3 step to handle this challenge. I rarely use the word problem, because to me a problem is anything that cannot be solved. Think of some encouraging words that you would give a friend who is having the challenge that you are having now and give them to yourself. Better yet, go back to step #1. Always keep your goals in mind. Find motivational material on the internet or buy books that speak about self-motivation. Talk to yourself and ask yourself this question, ‘Why do you think you are having this problem?’ Then answer it. Listen to your favourite music, watch a light-hearted movie and take yourself out on a date. Go to the movies, have some ice-cream. Walk to the park nearest you and watch other people go by (sometimes the unscripted stories are more interesting). Become your own best friend too.
6. Who can I turn to for help when I am finding it difficult?
For some things to work you may have to ask someone to help you achieve them. Find an unbiased friend who is good to talk to. Talk to the person about why you are making the changes in the first place. Ask them to help you take the journey.
7. When will I start?
Pick a date when you will start and write it down. Choose a date that you know will allow you to start right away. Writing it down will help you keep the commitment in mind and do it.
A study done in 2007 by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 persons showed that 88 per cent of persons who set new year’s resolutions failed even though 52 per cent of them were sure that they would be able to do it. Sharing your resolution with others may help to give you better results as opposed to trying to do it alone. Don’t under-estimate the power of peer-support.
I have no magic potion in the steps outlined that will make it work for you. You are the only winning lucky number that is sure to play. You are own jackpot numbers.
Diahann Green is a health and family life education teacher at Maths Unlimited High School.