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January the 1st has long been touted as the perfect day to start positive new habits, and discard ones that only serve us negatively. After all, it’s the beginning of a New Year. I don’t know about others, but the fact we are entering 2015 afresh seems a good enough reason in itself to make those resolutions.
Paradoxically, sometimes, we get so caught up in the idea that the first day of the new Year should herald the onset of healthy, valuable habits – ones which will make us better, happier people and that will benefit those around us. We feel pressured...we're changing habits that have had us in chains for years...questions like "what if I miss a day - is it all hopeless?" are particularly common in perfectionists.
The purpose of this article is to give readers some ideas how they can be champions and conquerers of their plans. This will also hopefully be leaving them with an attendant sense of self-confidence when they do it! They fufilled those resolutions! And confidence achieved in an area of changing deep seated ways successfully will probably leave you thinking there's nothing you can't do!
This is a vital reason in itself to keep a resolution, even one, and a tiny change, because the gift of "I can" will benefit you in all realms of life. This is because what we decide we want to achieve in a determined fashion gives a very strong clue as to where our values lie. And, where our values lie, our purpose lies in fulfilling them, making ourselves feel self-actualised and knowing we’ve made a difference in the world with our own unique gifts. When we help others, we get to feel good about ourselves too knowing that your life hasn't been in vain: you've helped humanity (including pet-humanity or nature) in a very important way.
I believe this is because when there is too much pressure on us to succeed, all our plans, so well organised, become unravelled. I believe, following this concept is the occurrence that when we try too hard, we are using up our energy stressing, instead of doing.
I apologise for this brief side-stepping before I give you the easier ways to change resolutions successfully and permanently. It's because it gives background as to why it's so important in the first place and why it is a worthwhile endeavour.
I will take a step aside to explain an interesting fact, based in neurobiology. When we are relaxed, brain waves known as “alpha” are most dominant. When we become stressed “beta waves" predominate. However, what is important for you to know, is that when we are relaxed, saying listening to music, drawing, watching television – are brains are in alpha. You are relaxed, but counterintuitively, you are most focussed and most efficient. When your brain waves are in beta- for example when you are multitasking such as getting to an appointment you are running late for and then you hear you have to pick up your sick child from school… What’s your immediate reaction? Rush! However, we are going faster, but we are actually ineffectual, just because the brain is running on beta waves. It’s like when your mind races when it is a bit too full. So don't feel bad about going slow: you will%% be thinking clearer.
1.So my Number One suggestion for keeping your Resolutions is “chill”. Take it slowly. Think it through. This is different from procrastination or laziness. It is organising yourself with mental and physical resources so you get the job done. For example, you have an exercise class at 6.30pm. Be organised – put out your gym clothes, but don’t speed there. If you have an accident you’ll be of no use to anyone!
2. Your resolutions must be yours. If a change in a habit doesn’t mean anything to you, if it’s not part of your value system, if you carry through with it anyway, you risk slipping and not knowing why, and then self-flagellating. To keep it brief, you’ll have a sense of inauthenticity. And when you don't feel 'you' are being 'you', you are being dishonest to yourself and those around you. It can be hard to be assertive.
I’ve made this mistake myself, because I didn’t want to lose a friend, because she thought this habit was ‘me’. However, I lose a sense of power and control. If your friends are just that, they will respect your individuality. True they might not like or understand it, but they will want you to be happy. Keep in mind not to be too hard on them. They most likely meant very well.
3. Make you Resolutions realistic. If you have too many, or they are too complex, you are setting yourself up for failure. Following realistic do-able steps comes a spring of self-efficacy, confidence and self-worth. Set yourself up for success!
4. Reward yourself when you have succeeded. If your goal is to be healthy by moderate exercise and fairly healthy eating (I am not a subscriber to weight loss goals for the sake of vanity – women are beautiful the way they are – which is why we need to look after our health).
Put a dollar in a jar for example, and at the end of the month buy something you’ve really wanted, and relish it. Don’t think stickers and words of praise are just for kids either! As adults, we must now self-validate, but we also respond the same way, and smile and stand tall when we’ve patted ourself on the back. Tell yourself what your particularly liked about your resolution change for the day. For example: "felt tired after exercise and didn't feel I had the energy for the class, but I actually felt better after!" This will also serve as reminders when you are tempted to bail out.
5. **Research has suggested that NINETY DAYS OF CONSECUTIVE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE is necessary to cement those change of habits. When you think about it, 3 months out of your whole life isn’t that much!!
6. Think about why you want to make these resolutions in the first place. For example, I want to return to uni, and improve my self-confidence. Thus my resolutions are forged around achieving these more minor goals. Ultimately, when I achieve them, I’ll set higher and higher goals, until hopefully I’ll reach the state of self-actualisation! Which is basically being all I can be....
7. You’ll want to have a system to note whether you have fulfilled the desired habit change. Did you eat healthy today? Did you exercise? Did you listen to a friend in need? A computer table can be useful here, and then just put a sticker, such as a star on a regular calender.
8. If you slip, and don’t go through with you habits one day: here’s the good news. One day a week at the most is probably not going to interrupt the changes that are taking place in your brain. However, more than one day, and you are defeating the purpose**- you want this behaviour to become default, automatic, something you don’t have to even think about. The more breaks you have the more threats to the reconditioning of your brain. I’m not saying you won’t develop fairly good habits, but that’s why making your resolutions realistic is important – so you’ll keep them up.
9. Expect that the first few days you will be pretty excited and then it might seem to need a greater summoning of motivation.. You might buy new gym wear and start stretching every morning. However, there are two sides of the coin to change – 1. It’s hard work but 2. It’s worth it. As long as it’s worth it to you, that’s all that matters. Make any change as fun and pleasurable as possible. Healthy food can taste great. Dance classes like Zumba don't feel like a duty, you're having a great time and socialising.
10. At the end of three months, shout yourself BIG TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Take a day off and revel in your successes.