Everyone can identify with the wish to start fresh and break old habits. If your plan is to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, spend less money, or build your career or social network, then get started on developing a system for success that will work for you.
If left to ourselves, we often go back to old habits. But, with the help of a competent friend, ally, therapist or life coach, you can better stay on task.
In this guest blog, Heather Edwards, a New York based therapist and life coach writes about six simple tips for breaking habits and making them stick.
Be Specific: Define the details of your goals and make them measurable. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, how much weight do you want to lose? By when? If your goal is to spend less money and start a savings, how much money do you want to save? Set a deadline. Make your goals attainable, but not too easy. Setting goals you CAN achieve will keep you motivated. Making them too easy isn’t really a challenge. The point is to stretch yourself to a higher level of functioning.
Make Your Goals Personal: Stay true to your values and purpose. Do your goals come from a desire for improvement that’s tied to your personal belief system? What is most important to you? The more personally meaningful they are, the more likely you are to stick to them and be successful.
Get a Partner: Having a workout or healthy eating partner can help keep you motivated and on track. Design a supportive environment. For example, if you know that junk food and soda are your weakness, remove them from your home and replace them with healthy snacks and seltzer water. Remember, it’s nearly impossible to quit a behavior without replacing it with a new one. Find healthy alternatives. Start a progress chart. Record daily and weekly change. Write an accountability blog which others may be following. Join a weight loss group or get a trainer.
Believe in Yourself: Your goals have to be important to you. Does it motivate you? Is it a value of yours? Is it a high priority? Do you have a sense of urgency about it? Can you imagine yourself 6 months from now, or a year from now, having succeeded in your goal? What does that look like? How did you get there? Retrace your steps to determine what you did to be successful in your future self. Do you have support? If you believe you can do it, you will!
Put Your Goals in Writing: Write them down in an “I Statement”. Put them in a visible place. Own them! This will serve as a reminder and motivator every time you see your personal statement. For example, if career development is your goal, “I will find a networking group in my field of interest and join it by February 1. I will seek out courses and sign up for at least one new class or conference in my field of interest by February 1.” Stick these notes on your refrigerator or on your desk, in a high traffic area in your home or office. Set reminders in your phone. Review your goals regularly.
Replace Self Sabotaging Thoughts with a Positive Mantra: Be flexible. Remember that failures are only temporary setbacks and great motivators for change. It’s never too late to get back on track. Even if you haven’t met your goal by your deadline, remember this is a process that takes time. Don’t confuse the destiny with the path. The path is meant to be savored, too. Each step you take will get you close, even if it’s not exactly on schedule.
Set out with a plan for a new you! Write your goals down. Be specific. Do some soul searching to determine what’s most important to you. Tell your friends. Get a partner. Set reminders. Chart your progress. Be patient. If you need more support, get a Life Coach, Counselor, or expert in the life domain you’re focused on to help you succeed.
Habits die hard. And, its hard to do it alone. Good luck.
Here is to a New YOU!
Heather Edwards, MA, LMHC is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at:
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