By Colleen Langenfeld, Courtesy of the Family-Content Syndicate
It's that time of year again. If you like the idea of making a fresh start, but are tired of enduring the frustrations of broken resolutions, try these simple tips for starting new habits that really last!
1. Test it.
Whims do not make good habits. Don't even attempt a resolution you're not serious about. How to tell? Are you willing to try it for a week? That's a good sign. Only interested in talking about it? Move on to the next one.
2. Gather supportive resources.
Find books, articles, and music to support your new habit. Put a screensaver on your computer to remind you of your new direction. Just like a nicotine patch, support materials give you the added help you need to stay the course.
3. Practice it.
Like riding a bike or learning a new language, habits require practice to make or break. Set goals such as '10 minutes, 3 times a day for a first week', then double the effort on week two. Be sure it applies to your situation.
4. Reward yourself.
Little rewards for the small goals reached; significant rewards for major achievements. Don't be stingy with yourself; you've decided on this resolution because it improves the quality of your life, right?
5. See it long-term.
The value of a lifestyle change cannot be measured in hours or days. If the weight took ten years to put on, it may take six to twelve months to come off. The health benefits can be felt for years to come, but only by staying the course long-term.
6. Do it with a buddy.
Almost everything is more pleasant with a friend at your side. Just make sure they know what they're in for! If you'll need to vent regularly at first, tell them exactly how they can help you and that it isn't necessary to take your frustrations personally.
Putting someone else in charge of your progress can be a helpful thing. Share your weekly goals with a trusted friend or spouse and establish weekly times where they can ask you about your progress. It can be easy to let ourselves slide along without real results...but no one wants to disappoint someone who respects them.
8. Replace old with new.
Remember that you can't remove an old habit without replacing it with a new. That's one reason why it's so important to state your goals in the positive. Focusing on finding ways to move your body that you enjoy and experiencing new, healthier recipes each week is much more helpful than constantly telling yourself to quit smoking and that you must give up your favorite food for the rest of your life.
9. Start living your new lifestyle.
Ask yourself what your new life will look like when it's just the way you want it to be and then start doing those activities. If you want to improve your social life, for example, don't wait until you lose those ten pounds to make more friends. Get out there and join a club you are interested in, volunteer for a worthy cause, take a course at the local community college. Get into life and it will get into you!
10. Give yourself a break.
Beginning a new habit or stopping an old one is usually a series of stops and starts. That's normal. Don't get discouraged with the process and give up too soon. Chart your progress so you can see the real gains you've made over time. If you miss a deadline, re-adjust and press on. After all, the real goal is that next New Years Day you will have accomplished your resolution. Let this be the year of change you've been looking for!
Colleen Langenfeld delivers deals, tips and creative resources to working moms who want the most out of their homes, families and careers at PaintedGold.com. Sign up for our free newsletter and get an online Creativity Toolkit as our gift to you!