It’s a New Year, and that means time for a New You, a resolution, a change. The idea of moving into a New Year with change can be difficult, and even downright earth shattering for some. “I have lived all these years with some maladaptive habits, do not expect me to change now” (am I right?). In fact, Mark Twain stated that, “habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time” (as quoted by Aalia, 2016). So today, I am here to say that there are a few steps that will help make change easier as you coax your habit down those stairs.
- First, start assessing what purposes the maladaptive habit you want to change served for you. When and how did this habit develop? When are you triggered to reach for a cigarette? When do you reach for that bag of cookies? What is so anxiety provoking about going to the gym? Learning to understand what is driving your behaviors is essential in attempting to alter them. Having this information will help you in the creation of the change you are looking for.
- New Year’s resolutions are often just that, resolutions. Instead we need to focus on defined goals. Example:
Resolution: In 2020, I will start working out.
Goal: In 2020, I will join (gym name) with a yearly plan and commit to working out at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.
- In order to set these goals, use a technique familiar to most mental health professions: SMART.
Specific: Goals need to be specific in order to clearly determine the whats, whens, and whys of your resolutions.
Measureable: Set a concrete measure of what reaching your goal looks like. Instead of saying “lose weight,” state an amount of weight you would like to lose.
Attainable: It’s okay to be ambitious for yourself, but if your goal is unattainable you will be setting yourself up for failure. If you have an ambitious goal, do yourself a favor and break it down it smaller gradual goals. Santry (2016) states, “What about, instead of thinking big and scary, we thought small and gentle? Little changes. Little and easily adapted but with potentially transformative benefits” (as quoted in Aalia, 2016).
Realistic: Be realistic with yourself. Even if a goal is attainable, you must be willing to attain it. If you are not willing to make the sacrifice, do not set that goal. Your goal must be something that motivates you toward achieving it and committing to it.
Timely: Define your timeframe. Giving yourself a timeframe will boost your motivation. But again, make sure the timeframe is reasonable and realistic.
- Lastly, remember to be patient with yourself. Continuously reflect on any growth that you have achieved; celebrating the small milestones you surpass. There is beauty in altering one small habit as it will inevitably lead to other opportunities and choices.
And do not forget, if you need help with your goals we at Ampersand Integrative Wellness are here to help!
I can not wait to hear and see all of the amazing transformations you all are about to make!
Aalia, Azadeh. “New Year, New You.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 8 Jan. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-first-impression/201601/new-year-new-you?amp%2Bhttps%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Famp%2Fs%2Fwww.psychologytoday.com%2Fus%2Fblog%2Fthe-first-impression%2F201601%2Fnew-year-new-you%3Famp.
Salemme, Isabelle. “Transform Your New Year’s Resolutions into Attainable Goals.” Pipefy, 26 June 2019, www.pipefy.com/blog/best-practices/new-years-resolutions-attainable-goals/.