We have just entered 2022, and you have probably made a New Year's resolution. This year is the year that it is going to happen. A lot of us feel the same way. We might let go a little in December and think that we will step up in January. But why does it never really happen? Why is it that our New Year's resolution often falls to the ground? Either we don't get started, or we stick to it for a few months before falling back into old habits.
It is quite natural, really, as habits only require a minimum of energy, whilst we spend a lot of effort to create new behaviors. Maybe you think it seems unmanageable to go to the gym or spend less time on work and more time with the kids.
As mentioned earlier, it is very natural to feel this way because changing habits is a hard task - if it wasn't, we would do it all the time. If we want to change something, we have to realize that it takes time and energy.
But the big question is; what does it take to change those habits? There are a number of self-help books and coaches, who think they have found the golden truth to it, but what really counts is that you find your own way. To find your way, there are different aids that you can utilize, but it is important to remember that you are the one who has to do the hard work.
1. Find your goal
The first step is to find out what you want to achieve. What does it look like in action? How will the changes benefit you? If you do not aim for something that you care about, you will never really get there. You might aim for a star and hit the moon and think to yourself that you didn't get anywhere. But yes, you are on your way. Everything happens in small steps, and you have to find your particular path.
2. Start small
When the goal has been found, you need to find small things in your everyday life that you can start with. A classic mistake is to go from 0-100 in no time and try to work in a strict diet and exercise program from week 1. It is all about starting small.
Start by blocking out a few hours of your calendar to prioritize yourself, your family, or put your cell phone away. By planning ahead you are making it much easier for yourself. To get started, make the decision at a time where you have the mental capacity. Block out small timeslots in your calendar so you know that there is time put aside for your goal. It is really difficult to change behavior when you have had a long day and have no energy, so planning ahead is key.
After a while, you can ask yourself the question - does this work for me? And if not, what should I change to make it work?
3. Prepare yourself mentally
The next step is to prepare yourself mentally. You can never prepare yourself for everything, but you can increase your chance of success by doing your mental preparations. You know yourself better than anyone, and you will be able to guess, more or less, what will happen when you are challenged in your new goals. Here it is important to notice which disruptions, thoughts, and feelings can arise when you are working on your new goals.
It is those thoughts that want you to take the easy road. It is those feelings that are pleasant to react to but also make you fall back into old habits and keeps you from becoming the person you want to become.
Therefore it is important to try to peek into the future and imagine which challenging situations you can be faced with day-to-day. You might come home from work determined to prepare a homemade vegetarian dinner, but Just Eat is standing by on your phone.
Here, a good preparation would be to set aside time for the dinner in your calendar, grocery shop in advance, and do some mental preparation knowing that you will want to take the easy solution when you get home. The trick is to accept that it is challenging at the moment - but rewarding long term.
4. Find your motivation
To find the right motivation long term, there is one final step you have to take. Which kind of person is it that you want to become? A better dad, more present, healthier, or something else? This ensures that you always have your long-term goal to guide you when you are in a tough situation. This is a process you have to work with when you are alone and have time to reflect on your life. Otherwise, you will be caught in the moment of everyday life, where you often act on emotions.
To sum it all up, you need to find a goal that you want to work towards. Then you have to break it into smaller pieces or tasks, otherwise you will fall back into old habits. Prepare yourself for the situations that you can encounter along the way, where difficult feelings and thoughts can keep you from becoming the person you want to be. And last but not least, find out who you want to become so that you have a strong motivation for your change.
Happy New Year and good luck.