Dr. Lisa Hayden
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Chances are you made a New Year’s resolution, and at this point in the year you may have already broken it. Or worse yet…you never even put it into action. Why is it that our good intentions can be so hard to implement in the long term?
Break the All or Nothing Mentality
Changing behavioral patterns takes time to establish, and our goals are often lofty or ill-defined. Rethinking your goals as lifestyle based and breaking them into small but management steps can help you make real progress. It is easy to think in terms of all or nothing, but this thought pattern makes it easy to give up and quit, Ultimately sabotaging your effots. You may say to yourself, “I already blew it today so I might as well start tomorrow”. Then tomorrow turns into Monday, or February, or next New Year!
Live in the Present
If we can think about change in the here and now (or moment to moment) we are then transforming perspective into one that is lifestyle oriented. So instead of thinking that the day i already ruined, you can focus on your opportunity to implement the change you want.
How to Manage a Slip Up
If you’ve resolved to eat less sugar but you had dessert at lunch, it doesn’t mean that you’ve blown your desire to eat less sugar. It simply means that you had a slip up – and you can go right back to working on your goal. Write down you slip up as your weekly splurge and return to your overall plan.
Perhaps you overslept and missed your spin class? Are you able to find a later class, do pushups in your office, or go for a walk during lunch? Even if it is not the exact plan, something is always better than nothing.
Keep Yourself Honest
Most resolutions are simply agreements you make with yourself. If you entered into a business agreement you would likely track your progress and provide regular updates. Treat your lifestyle change the same way, by keeping an ongoing record and setting time aside to review it regularly. Seeing your progress in black and white can be highly reinforcing, while observing lack of progress gives you a great opportunity to brainstorm solutions and address obstacles.
We know that lifestyle oriented change is not easy and sometimes requires an accountability partner to support you in achieving your goals. Meeting with a fitness specialist, dietitian, or life balance expert can be helpful in keeping those resolutions and moving forward to the healthier lifestyle you desire.