“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
If you are like most people, you have a shopping list of changes you want to make this coming year.
Add to that the possibility that 2012 might be our last year on Earth, and things start to get serious!
So we’ve already talked about how you can change in an instant so I want to add a few ways you can make SURE those resolutions probably happen.
Keep the list SHORT.
Pick no more than 3 things to work on, but honestly 1 is even better.
If it’s something that you’ve meant to do before and never did (like stop smoking or lose weight), I actually suggest *not* picking that one, we’ll discuss why in a moment.
Once you have figured out your one to three goals, cut your goal in half.
What this mean is, if you mean to lose 25 pounds, make a goal to lose 12. If you want to stop smoking 3 packs a day, try to get down to smoking a pack a day. If you want to start saving money, start putting aside $20 out of each pay check. One important thing, though: whatever you decide to do physically write it down…there is power in taking this simple step.
Figure out sensible, painless steps you can start taking NOW.
For reasons we’ve talked about before, will power is not enough to make changes; over time your will power will fail 100% of the time. If you mean to just grit your teeth and FORCE yourself to do (or not do) things, you’ll have some short term success, but in the long term you’ll slip right back to where you are. So if your goal is to lose weight, rather than saying you can never eat at McDonalds again, just eat a single hamburger instead of a triple cheeseburger with bacon. Get a small fries instead of extra large; drink diet coke instead of regular coke.
Give yourself a cheat day, or cheat meal.
Like I said, will power is NOT enough, so give yourself a backup plan: allow yourself one day (or at least one meal) where you can have ANYTHING you want. If you want to eat a gallon of ice cream, or a whole pizza, fine. If you want to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in one sitting, that’s fine, too.
And finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY:
Realize you’re already perfect right now, today.
You don’t HAVE to lose weight, you don’t HAVE to stop smoking, and you don’t HAVE to start saving money. These are things you CHOOSE to do, because you want to improve your life. You are moving towards something positive, rather than running from something negative.
Sound simple enough, right?
So now let me explain to you why this will work: it sets you up to win.
The reason why you’ve had problems keeping resolutions in the past, is you had this shopping list of huge things that deep down inside you didn’t really believe you could do. Actually DEEP down inside you may not have even wanted to do them; you just felt you ‘should’.
By keeping the list short, you give yourself a much tighter focus on to make change; and it allows you the regular comforts you enjoy while giving up some things that aren’t serving you anymore.
By figuring out painless steps you can take NOW, you start to see positive results immediately. It lets you start racking up little wins that you can feel good about every single day. Think about it: if you tell yourself you can’t have cake ever again, and slip up and eat a piece it’s easy to just give up and quit. But if you allow yourself cake, but only eat a tiny piece you can celebrate your win and self control.
You literally get to have your cake and eat it, too!
The cheat day is there to give yourself a way out; if you truly feel like you just HAVE to eat that fried twinkie, then really you only have to wait until Saturday to have it, instead of saying you can’t have it EVER. So in the moment, your will power holds AND you keep the agreement you made with yourself. Here is the great part, though: by your cheat day you probably won’t even want that thing anymore.
Now for the questions you may have:
You have probably heard it said that the ‘difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline’, and yet I didn’t mention anything about setting a deadline, why?
Because you haven’t formed the habit of succeeding at goals, you have formed the habit of failing at your goals. If you set a strict time line and don’t reach it, or even feel behind, it will just cause you to put more pressure on yourself that won’t help anyway. If you do the steps listed above, you WILL see positive change, and your goals WILL manifest.
So, when can you do the other half of your goals, or do the other things on your list?
Honestly, the momentum will take you there. If you grow accustomed to diet cokes and small fries, then start phasing out the cokes and fries completely. Instead of eating a whole chicken on your cheat day, you’ll find yourself wanting grilled chicken and asparagus instead as your ‘indulgence’. Once you see how easy it is to save a little, you can start looking for other ways to trim your life and save more money.
This plan works with your natural way of thinking to let your tastes and habits change smoothly, and you’ll be making progress with little or no discomfort.
Make no mistake, this strategy is 100% effective, but only if you do your part.
If you make the list and put it in a drawer, and don’t look at it till next December nothing is going to happen. In my Coaching work I see the #1 problem run into in achieving their goals is not REALLY believing they can do it. So if you are worried about not accomplishing your goal, cut it in half again. Start as small as you need to in order to get started, and the rest will take care of itself.
I’ll see you next year!
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B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host
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