If the internet is to be believed, 83% of us have made resolutions for the new year, and most of those resolutions involve getting fitter, eating better, and improving our finances. Sounds pretty reasonable, especially given the pandemic’s unwanted effects on many people’s health and financial situations. Unfortunately, another search also suggests that only 19% of these resolutions will be successful.
Rather than using that disheartening statistic as a reason to throw away our goals for 2022, let’s look at how we can maximise our chances of success, shall we? This is my approach to effective and lasting change, which I hope can inform your own successful resolutions.
Make it Holistic
In preparing for change, you need to consider every aspect of your life and how they interact to affect your likelihood of success. If you want to improve your eating habits but your fridge is full of junk food, your partner eats Doritos for dinner, your regular Friday lunch with coworkers is at Maccas, and you don’t plan to give up drinking even though it regularly leads to pizza orders, you’re not giving yourself the best conditions for success.
If you want to save more money but you use shopping to regulate your emotions (and a lot of us do), you may need to find a replacement strategy for that emotional regulation.
Check the physical, environmental, spiritual, emotional, mental, and social elements of your life and perform tune-ups as required.
Make it Individual
Psychology varies massively between people and science is based on averages. This means that no matter how well referenced an article is about what ‘works’, it may or may not be effective for you. If setting a SMART goal makes you cringe, it’s not your way forward.
Instead of adopting approaches that a researcher swears are effective for 70% of people (and then beating yourself up when it doesn’t work), think about when you’ve been successful with change in the past and what conditions got you there. Use your failed attempts as learning material as well. What has tripped you up in the past and how can you avoid it this time?
Also, make sure your goals are truly your own and are in line with your own values. Resolutions that are in service of someone else’s expectations are a waste of energy and unlikely to succeed.
Make it Kind
You cannot and should not shame yourself into change. If you’re looking at the numbers on your bank account or scales and bandying words like ‘disgusting’ around, it’s time to change tactics. Be your own best friend. Loving encouragement accompanied by a solution focus is going to be much more effective and enjoyable for getting the change you want.
Since you’re human, it’s likely that on any path to change, you will have good days and bad days. How would you speak to a beloved best friend who tripped up on their resolution path? Do that.
Don’t fall into the ‘all or nothing’ approach where one puff on a cigarette or unnecessary internet purchase becomes a reason to throw it all away. Keep the end in sight, treat it a learning experience, adjust approach accordingly, and get back to lovingly encouraging yourself.
Make it Enjoyable
For me, this particular element is key. I will never stick at something I don’t enjoy. And no, I don’t believe that telling myself over and over that I ‘simply love spin classes’ is going to do the trick. What do you love doing, and how can you tie it in to what you want to achieve?
I am currently in the best shape I’ve been in since my early twenties. This year, I stopped purchasing gym memberships and fitness equipment I would never use, and instead took the ‘What do I enjoy?’ approach. I bought a virtual reality headset, and found a number of fun and addictive games that just happen to involve jumping around and punching things, and suddenly, I exercise 3–4 hours a day because I love it.
Likewise, I laughed out loud when I read an article today that said if I felt like eating chocolate, I should have a glass of water instead. Does that actually work for anyone? There are chocolate and ice-cream brands that are virtually sugar free and are actually really good! I always make sure I’m eating food I enjoy: if lettuce makes you gag, there’s no point attempting to commit to salad every day.
Humans are social creatures, and the relational aspect of our lives is key in achieving our goals. Surround yourself with supportive and inspiring people, and consider whether professional help might assist you in making the change you’re after. External accountability in itself is a huge motivator for most people, and the right therapist, coach, or trainer with expertise and experience in the challenges you face could be the key to your success.
If you’re considering finding a supporter to help you with the challenges of creating long-term change in your life, get in touch for a free consultation call so we can help set you up for success.