It’s that time of year again when many of us have set out our new year’s resolutions and promise ourselves that this time things will be different. We are declaring aloud for all to hear, the monumental changes we intend to make in our lives. Whether it’s losing weight, quitting smoking, learning a new skill or changing careers, many of us have something in our lives that we would like to change.
Unfortunately, year after year, many of us fail to make any lasting changes in our lives. Think of the typical scenes in gyms this time of year, where it’s difficult to find any space to exercise as they are so packed. By February or March, things inevitably quieten down as many people lose hope in their ability to sustain the unrealistic goals they set themselves at the beginning of the year.
It is extremely difficult for many of us to make positive changes in our lives. I believe that one of the main reasons for this, is that we often try to do too much in a very short space of time. Over Christmas I found myself feeling very overwhelmed by what 2017 would bring. I have many exciting events coming up this year. A new house, getting married, releasing a new book. These are all positive things obviously, but I felt overwhelmed because I was unsure how I was going to be able to successfully complete my goals.
After some self-evaluation and realising why I was feeling overwhelmed, I quickly began to feel excited again about the coming year. How did I do this? By taking time to reflect and evaluate what was coming up. The first thing I remembered is that we think in pictures not in words. This is significant because, thinking in pictures often means that we can see the things we want to achieve, and the work we have to do to get there as a single event in time.
However that is obviously not the case. We tend to overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a week, a month or a year. This is why it’s a good idea to reflect and even write out, not only your goals, but also your pathway to your goals, even possibly developing a personal timeline to do so. This reminds us that we don’t have to do everything at once and that we can make the changes we want in our lives over a period of time, little by little.
The French have a nice saying when it comes to making change, “little by little, the bird makes its nest”. If we can adopt this approach to our resolutions or goals, we are much more likely to stick to them. Also something we forget to do when we are trying to achieve our goals or make significant changes in our lives, is to have some fun while doing so. If we can enjoy the process a little, rather than feeling anxious about it, we will be more likely to stick to our task.
Even though we may find it difficult to change ourselves, resolutions and setting new goals are very important. Successfully implementing change in our lives can play a significant role in our happiness. To be happy we need to work to improve our quality of life. In order to do this we need to self-evaluate and plan for improvement. Before resolving to change anything in your life it is important to first ask yourself some key questions.
- What do I really want? The “really” part is important here. Do I want it for me or do I want it because everyone is telling me I should want it? Unless our goal is something that we really want to achieve ourselves, we will lose interest in what we are trying to do. Look at students who are facing into state exams this year. Many are not motivated to study, as it is not them who have decided what course they want to do but their parents and their teachers, telling them they should or have to.
- Is what I want achievable? This is one of the main reasons many of us fail to keep our resolutions and give up on our goals. We try to achieve too much too soon. For example, saying that you are going to lose 3 stone in a month is normally not achievable. However if you resolve to make small changes to diet and exercise and increase these changes over the course of a year, you are much more likely to stick to your goal.
- Is what I am doing helping me get what I want? It’s important to look at your behaviours, routines, thoughts and attitudes and honestly ask yourself this question. If the things you are doing are not helping you achieve your goals, you must change something in order to do so. This can be difficult, as often we don’t see our thoughts or behaviours as being the problem. However when we are trying to change something in our lives, we become naturally drawn back into old thought and behaviour patterns that stifle the change we want to make.
- What else could I do? If what I am doing now isn’t helping me, is there another way I could do things? For example if I want to lose weight but I want to watch TV and relax in the evenings after work or school, maybe I could get up earlier and exercise in the morning!
- When can I do it? Not only is it important to plan how to achieve goals but you must also decide when you can implement these changes. Again be careful of trying too much too soon and give yourself enough time to gradually implement the changes?
- What is my plan? At this point you are ready to see your pathway to your goal more clearly and envision a clear plan to success!
If you are planning any changes in your life this year, don’t forget to be mindful of your inner critic. There will be times when things don’t go to plan and remember that failure is not permanent. FAIL simply means, First Attempt In Learning!
Link to shop: Choices – Facilitators Manual Description