The urge for self-improvement is strong at the start of a new year. It’s a time for looking back to see what kind of person we have been and a time for looking forward and visualizing ourselves as the person we want to be.
Here we come to a big question: Is the urge for change more powerful than the drive to fall back on what is comfortable to you? At first, change seems manageable, but as time goes on, we may tire like a runner in a long race. Then, as difficulties of our daily lives surround us, returning to the comfort zone could seem more important than making the change.
Keep these points in mind when making resolutions:
* When one resolution involves an important lifestyle change, don’t make any others. If you want to quit smoking, lose weight and learn a foreign language, you won’t be able to do all three things at once.
* Study the obstacles to your resolution and determine ways to deal with them. If you want to lose weight, for example, decide to skip the ice cream and have a low-calorie popsicle instead. Tell friends you are not eating rich desserts so they won’t tempt you.
* Think about professional help. Medical assistance could be valuable if you want to break an addictive habit.
* Keep your focus and monitor your progress. Keep a notebook and record how often the behavior you want to change occurs, who you were with and how you felt. You’ll see a pattern that you can avoid in the future.
* If you break a resolution, don’t give up on the effort. See it as an opportunity for self-compassion. Treat yourself kindly.
New Year’s resolutions are supposed to make you feel good about yourself. If not keeping them makes you think badly about yourself, they aren’t worth the effort. Work at it, but prioritize your wellbeing.