“How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions” by Roslyn Franken
Most people are really good at making their New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, most of those same people are just as good at breaking them. Sound familiar? I was a great example. I remember when I was overweight and every New Year’s Eve I would make my resolution to lose a certain number of pounds by my birthday on May 13th.
Aaaarrrrggghhhh! I remember the frustration and disappointment in myself. And what did I do to feel better? Yup, I ate more and put on even more weight. I’m proud to say that the last time I made that New Year’s resolution about losing weight was back in 2004. I’ve kept that resolution and have never looked back. However, this article is not about how I shed my unwanted pounds and kept them off. If you really want to know all the details of how I did it, I can tell you this, the same principles I used to lose all my unwanted weight are the same principles that have helped others quit smoking and curb their spending habits and more. These life-changing principles are all in my book, The A List: 9 GuidingPrinciples for Healthy Eating and Positive Living.
I wrote the book with a focus on healthy eating, weight control and improving quality of life and am amazed at the different ways people have applied the principles to their lives and the changes they’ve achieved in their health, relationships and overall sense of well-being. So if you want to learn more beyond this article, I invite you get yourself a copy of my book.
This article is about how to keep YOUR resolution regardless of what it is. So whether you’re looking to lose weight, quit smoking, get organized, enjoy life more or get out of debt for 2013, the key to keeping your New Year’s Resolution is actually quite simple.
Notice I said ‘simple’. I didn’t say easy. Behavioural change is seldom easy and it does require time and effort. The problem is most people give up too soon. You’ve got to have these four necessities of change in place as your foundation to build on. Whatever your New Year’s Resolution is, it all comes down to these four things:
1. Desire to change a behavior: You say you want to quit smoking, get out of debt, lose weight or be more physically active, for example. That’s great, you have a desire to change. Any change starts with a dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire for something better.
2. Willingness to change a behaviour: Having the desire isn’t enough. You can talk about your desire to change all you want, but what are you willing to do about it? Are you truly willing to make some changes in what you’re doing now? Sometimes we want to make a change, but we don’t know where to start and we resist the very changes we need to make. We’re afraid of failure or we don’t want to fully admit to ourselves the importance of the changes we need to make. We pretend that maybe it’s not that important and we choose to procrastinate on it. Unfortunately, this procrastination can sometimes mean a heart attack or other major health issue, or having to declare bankruptcy. Or sometimes, we just don’t know how to make the change in our behaviour on our own and don’t know where to turn for help. It’s easier and safer to stick with the status quo so we just go on wishing and dreaming of a better self and a better life. Time passes and nothing changes.
3. Readiness to change a behavior: Having the desire for change and being willing to make the change is also not enough. You have to be ready to do something about it. Sometimes you’re willingness is there, but the time is not right. If, for example, you’re going through a very emotionally difficult time such as the loss of a loved one, it may not be the ideal time to try and make major changes as you may not have the mental and emotional focus or stamina required. It takes focus and energy to create behavioural change. You may need time to grieve and just ‘be’ and as you come out of this emotionally difficult phase, you can then regroup and look at how to move forward and create the positive and meaningful changes you want on a larger scale.
4. Commitment to change a behavior: I tell people that in order to successfully change a behavior long-term, you really need to be a pit bull. What I mean by that is you need to have a ‘never give up’ attitude that will see you through those times where your motivation or focus may not be at its highest. I believe that motivation and focus can sometimes flow in waves even for the most successful people out there, but an underlying commitment must be where you’re operating from for long-term success. Even if you’re having an off day, you’re still committed. You just put it behind you and get back on track as soon as reasonably possible.
Believe me there were days in my weight loss journey where it would have been all too easy to just give up and throw in the towel. My motivation was not always at its highest. There were days and sometimes weeks where I just couldn’t seem to keep things on track. But I just kept it going and never lost my commitment. I gave myself permission to be less than perfect and then just got myself back on track. Next thing I knew I had reached my goal. It may seem difficult and it may seem like where you want to be in your life with the changes you want to make is so far away. Trust me, time is flying so fast that if you just stick with it, you will get there.