New Year, New You

Keeping your momentum for change.

Posted Jan 09, 2020

ID 116936184 Daliu80 / Dreamstime
Source: ID 116936184 Daliu80 / Dreamstime

It’s a new year and you may have made some New Year’s resolutions that are still in good shape. You are on your way to losing weight, keeping up with your exercise plan, being nice to your kids, looking for a new job, and calling friends you have neglected. You are feeling confident about your progress and your ability to keep that momentum going.

Research tells us that most people will have fizzled out on their New Year’s resolutions by mid-February, back to the old habits and back to their frustrations. The year will roll on, and come December or next January, they will start the resolution process again. But as of now, you are still ahead of the game. How do you avoid becoming a statistic and keep on track for your desired outcome?

Prepare now for the obstacles you will likely face. Life intervenes and you might get distracted, discouraged, depressed, overwhelmed, and lose focus. There are many forces that want to pull you off your track; creating a personal plan to stay on track despite what you will encounter. Start now by shoring up your resources to continue to make change happen.

  1. Find a mentor or buddy to collaborate (and commiserate with) on a regular basis. Many of the best self-help, change programs operate on the buddy system. Having someone who knows you are trying to change, respects your struggle, and wants to help you reach your goal can be the difference between staying on your path and veering off when things get tough. Even better, find a mentor, someone who has gone through the journey you are on, and has made the change happen: a diet coach, a job coach, a senior person in your workplace, a knowledgeable friend or family member. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, and if you are lucky enough to find one who has information about what you are trying to accomplish, they can be a great resource and buddy to keep you on track.
  2. Have a plan! This can’t be overstated. Having a goal is so important, but then having the discrete steps laid out for how to reach that goal is critical. Put the steps you need to take on your calendar; break them down and do little bits at a time. Make sure you have something you are doing, if not on a daily basis, at least a few times a week that is in support of your goal. Calendar it. Commit to it. Allocate the time to it. It won’t materialize on its own; you need to help it to materialize.
  3. Keep reminders of your goal present at all times. You need the discipline to save, instead of spend, for that vacation? You want to get back into the jeans you wore in college? You want to change jobs and work in a happy, upbeat environment where you make more money, too? You want to be a nicer person? Find a picture, or draw a picture or take a picture, that reminds you of your end goal. Write down some words that remind you of the end goal: “A 143-lb body!” “Working out 3 times a week for 45 minutes!” “Happy new workplace with smiling faces and more salary!” Whatever it is that connotes your goal for you, bring it to life and keep this in a prominent place. Look at it every single day as a reminder that you have somewhere you want to go.
  4. Enjoy the journey and the learning process that accompanies it. Sometimes people become so focused on the end goal, they don’t recognize the milestones or learnings they are gathering along the way. It might take you weeks or months to get to your personal finish line. While you are getting there, what lessons can you take and use? What sparks of insight or information can you gather? What interests can you pursue or enjoy? Traveling the road, if you are open to the gifts along it can be sometimes as fulfilling as getting to your end destination.
  5. Celebrate your wins. It can be discouraging when you aren’t moving quickly enough to your goal, or you fall off track, or life intervenes and you can’t focus on your goal the way you would like to. Give yourself a break and celebrate the things you are doing to improve yourself and make progress in whatever way you have deemed important for you.

And remember, as long as you are doing something, you are learning and growing. Sometimes the goal you have set isn’t the right one for you, and you might find something else along the way that is a better outcome, so keep your eyes open and just keep moving!