As you and I both know, this is the season for seeking a successful lifestyle change. It is the beginning of a new year, and for many people, a time to make some big changes to better their lives. Sometimes though I hear some of the craziest goals that people make for themselves in their quest for a complete change.
Some examples I have heard:
* “I’m going to eliminate all sugar from my diet because it makes me feel like poo.”
* “I’m going to workout every single day so I can lose weight.”
* “I will not overindulge in _____ this year.” (alcohol, “junk” food, television, etc)
* “I will meet one new person each week this year.”
* “I will write in my journal/blog every single day this year.”
I’m sorry if you have made any of these resolutions yourself, but I’m going to be 100% honest with you. I think you will fail if you have made a resolution such as these. A resolution that commits you to something every single day or week on a consistent basis will last you a month. Maybe it will last you even two months. But unless you have super-human dedication and never get bored, burnt-out, or sick of monotony, you will not be able to keep these unrealistic commitments you have made to yourself.
If you are looking to make a true change to your life, you are going to need to keep one key question in the front of your mind.
That’s right. Can you live with these goals or resolutions for the rest of your life? Let me give you an example:
The Ugly Picture
So that journal that you have resolved to write in every single day this year. How many times have you failed at this resolution in the past? Probably many. You have probably started out the year writing every night and by the second or third week you get sick of it and aren’t writing anything worth mentioning because you don’t even feel like writing half the time. So then you decide to take one night off. That one night turns into two nights and eventually a week and then a month. Before you know it, you have completely broken your resolution for the year. Sound familiar at all?
Now let me paint a more realistic picture that will pave the way to a much more successful lifestyle change:
The Pretty Picture
Once you decide that you would like to write in your journal/blog more often than you currently do, you have a few things you can do to promote your success in journal-writing. Go out and buy yourself a journal that you are seriously excited to write in (or revamp your blog if that is your writing platform). While you’re at it, grab yourself a pen that writes exactly the way you want to. Let’s just get pumped up! You will then need to decide when your prime writing time is. First thing in the morning? Right after work? You’ve got to figure that out and stick to that time frame.
Write as much as you can without it feeling forced. Every single day if you want to. And the moment you don’t have the desire to write something, then take the day off. With no guilt. Just remind yourself that it wasn’t there today and it will be back in a day or two. And it will. If you truly have the desire to write in your journal or blog, the desire will come back when the time is right. And if you are feeling a slump for over a week or two, Google some simple writing prompts if you feel like it. Or go do something inspiring that may get you in the mood to write. Or don’t. Just don’t stress about it.
Now doesn’t that sound a little more realistic? That is something you can live with for the rest of your life, right? This is how you make a successful lifestyle change without failure. You don’t put pressure on yourself. I’m afraid if you do, you just might fail. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
You can apply this method to all other changes you want to make. Take exercising. You’ve got to start by getting hyped up. New workout clothes if you need them. A new routine. Something that gets you excited. Decide what time of the day works best for you and stick to it. Work out as much as you can when you’re actually feeling a desire to do so. Once the excitement lacks, maybe take one day off. You just might feel so crappy about skipping a day that you’ll be jumping out of bed the next morning to hit the gym. Or maybe you need another pick-me-up. Make up a new routine. Make a new playlist. Find something to get you excited all over again. Something new. That’s what we, as humans, are looking for. New things. That’s what gets us excited.
How does this work for me?
With this method, I have been able to make a completely successful lifestyle change when it comes to my exercise routine. It is a no-pressure and no-guilt approach. Some weeks, I workout seven days a week. Some weeks, I’m lucky enough to get one or two sessions in for the week. And that’s fine. It all balances out, and I literally listen to my body and do what it feels. It will tell me when it’s too tired. It will tell me when it can handle more of a challenge. All you’ve got to do is listen.
So this year as you are attempting to make your way through your resolutions, I want you to ask yourself if you are able to truly live with this for your entire life. Can you really see yourself never indulging or never consuming sugar? No, that’s ridiculous. It’s going to happen. So before you feel like a failure every time you “mess up”, how about you plan for those sorts of up’s and down’s?