The Stress of a Resolution
Did you know that the end of December and beginning of January is considered one of the most stressful times in the year? With so many people thinking of what they want to “resolve” and what they want to change in the new year, it can lead to a lot of stress, anxiety and pressure on your already tapped out life. Don’t get me wrong, resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle, give up toxic habits and make changes in your career are all wonderful; however, a lot of stress can be created at the same time. It is always the roughest the third through eighth week after creating a change in your routine. Your motivation may dwindle, challenges will pop up and the stress of staying true to your resolutions may creep in as guilt or shame if you have fallen off the wagon.
One suggestion I give to my clients is to think of goals instead of resolutions and leave a little wiggle room in those goals. When you are making some serious and significant changes in your life, you need to be able to allow yourself moments to allow yourself to make mistakes or even endure a slight setback, without beating yourself up about it. When people fail once, they can tend to give up and that is what makes keeping a resolution so stressful. Instead, create a different format to what you want to accomplish. Take baby steps and reward yourself along the way. When you keep the door open for some minor changes you will see greater success in all your goals. Start off slow with baby steps and then build and create more difficult steps and then finally leaps in your goals. You will more than likely stick with your goals once you see your accomplishments.
Goals will give you a sense of accomplishment instead of that sense of failure. When you take those baby steps you accomplish something, even if it is just the smallest of things. Your mind and body will feel and accept that level of accomplishment and bring more happiness into your life. This will give you the motivation you need to keep moving forward. When you break your resolution it is much easier to feel like a failure and give up. Goals won’t allow that feeling because you have set them up so that you can accomplish something.
Resolutions are a means to a goal, but if all of a sudden your resolution is too difficult to stick to it is usually dropped and never thought of again. When you use goals, you can change any part of the process so that it fits into your life. If a change is too difficult to do at this time, you can adjust the goal to a lower intensity or change the plan choosing a different behavior that will lead to the same end result, not losing sight of the goal. Here is a great example; you would like to make a resolution to get to the gym five days a week, but find that you don’t really like the gym, so chances are good you will not end up keeping your resolution. What if you change your goal to “getting more exercise” and you drop the gym membership, but team up with a neighbor or friend and enjoy a daily walk in the neighborhood, a bike ride, swim or take a T’ai Chi class? You are still working with your goal, but changed the plan ever so slightly so you can still accomplish your goal.
You can use these goals to look ahead into your future and see how today’s goal will impact your life two, five or even ten years down the road. Set up some longer term goals and see how this goal will lead you to an ultimate goal that you would like to have in your future. This will help motivate you to keep going each day adding a little more to your accomplishment list. When you can keep in mind the image of where you would like to ultimately end up, it will be easier to stick to your goals.
Another way to think about making changes in your life is to look at what you want to add to your life instead of what you want to take away. For example, instead of making the goal to “eat less junk food” shift your focus more on “eat more diverse and nutrient dense foods.” Your mind and body may feel more deprived, on a subconscious level, if you think you are taking something away from yourself. Adding in something good into your routine will boost your motivation to stick to it. It is always easier to add a new behavior than to stop an old one.
Another great tip is to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind by having them printed and posted at home and at work. Do the same thing when you break these big goals down into smaller goals so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed. This will help you maintain the goals and all the baby steps that come along with them. At the end of each week write down everything that you accomplished. Make this a weekly journal entry and a habit that you do every week. Put it in your calendar for every Friday afternoon at 3pm to take a break, maybe have a cup of tea and write down every accomplishment you can think of, even if it is that you woke up late, but still got to work on time. This will help shift your mindset from failure to success and boost your confidence and motivation.
Always remember to reward yourself after reaching one of your goals. Make it something small, like a new book, treat yourself to a movie or a massage. Remember, change takes time so allow yourself some patience and self-care along the way. The work you are doing is creating an incredible person with lasting changes. Enjoy what you are creating and find fun in the process.
Happy New Year! Fill 2018 with love, laughter and moments of joy!