How many times have you made a New Year's resolution, completely intending to keep it, only to have it fall by the wayside after a month or two? It's so easy to get distracted, lose interest, or move onto other things. There is a proven method to creating habits and making changes that last.
Think about the times in your life where you actually did make lasting changes. They probably involved one or more of the following:
1. An emotional response - Write down the goal and imagine how you will feel once you accomplish it. Sit with it often and picture it happening.
2. Support - Tell friends and family about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable. Online support systems can be helpful as well. Identify your obstacles and triggers, and ways to overcome them. Having a plan for this makes a huge difference. For example, if you notice that a particular thought can discourage you from your goal, decide to take a deep breath and blow it out slowly each time you notice that thought. Negative self-talk can be replaced - it just takes practice, patience, and a little self-forgiveness.
3. Consistency - Start small so you can accomplish them - for example if you make a goal to meditate every morning, starting off with 30 minutes will probably be a little too ambitious. Start with 5 minutes, and increase by 5 minutes per week. These small accomplishments each week will give you motivation to keep going.
I loved my job but felt like I wasn't putting in enough hours and I loved being a mom but felt distracted and wasn't fully present when with the kids. I'd end up feeling guilty when I was with the kids and checking my email, and when I was at work I'd feel like I needed to rush so I could get off in time to be with the kids. It came down to making a goal to spend a certain amount of time at work, and if things didn't get done like I wanted them to, I'd wake up a little earlier the next morning. I made a conscious effort to be more present - and with practice, it became easier to catch myself slipping.
Setting reachable goals will improve your confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment. Set goals that have a reward at the completion. I love the idea of the daruma - it's a little doll-like statue with only one eye colored in. You put it somewhere so you will see it giving you the stink-eye every day. When you have reached your goal, you color in the other eye. Research shows that anticipating positive experiences makes us happier than the experiences themselves.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.