Don’t Wait for New Year’s Day: Make a Change Anytime
It’s an American tradition. January 1 inspires us to change something in our lives and a New Year’s Resolution is made. Sadly, most people give up in less than a month.
I’ve never believed in New Year’s resolutions. Yes, I want to make personal changes as much as anyone else, but I start anytime during the year. To help me accomplish my goals, I look to three principles:
- Focus on one thing and implement it slowly. For example, how realistic is it to expect that you can dramatically change your diet in one day and stick to it for the rest of your life? It’s not. My husband and I started to change our diets several years ago and today, we eat very healthily. First, we stopped eating the worst foods such as French fries and onion rings and substituted fruit and vegetables. Then, snack foods disappeared from our house. No more easy access to potato chips or M & M’s for mindless eating. We traded pizza for big salads, and we only eat red meat a few times a year. A couple of years ago, I stopped eating boxed cereal for breakfast, substituting oatmeal or eggs instead. This year, I am reducing the amount of processed wheat in my diet. Through focus and gradual, but deliberate, effort, our diets evolved into a healthy lifestyle.
- Accept setbacks then restart. I have days where temptation wins and I eat something that I shouldn’t. I once read that life is a series of reboots and I apply that philosophy to my diet. If I have one or two bad days, the next meal and the next day is an opportunity to start over, and I plan my next day’s meals.
- Develop emotional agility. Thousands of thoughts run through my mind each day. These inner thoughts affect my behavior. For example, if I tell myself that my new way of eating deprives me of all of the foods that I love, I will be more inclined to eat things that I shouldn’t. Instead, I have learned to examine these thoughts and ask myself if they are true. Most of the time they are not. When a thought turns out to be false, I can look at a situation differently. For example, now I can see the long term benefits that a healthy diet provides. Be aware of inner thoughts that can sabotage your desired change.
Here’s my challenge to you: Pick a priority in your life where you want to be more proactive and have more control. The beginning of the year is not your only opportunity to change. You have that choice every minute of the year. You don’t need to use January 1 as an excuse to commit to change and start living the life that you want. You can start right now!
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