A New Year, A Better Me

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year?  As the New Year dawns, we review the things we did not accomplish and vow new beginnings; healthy changes to our lives to bring that fresh start.  I made a resolution to get more exercise by swimming laps.  Yet just because we say something in the excitement of celebration or impulse of the moment the change won’t happen overnight. It requires skills like insight, planning, energy, time, effort, a large dose of support, and even resolve.  I discovered this first hand when I jumped into the pool to start my perfect 20 laps.  As I became winded, sputtered and spit in the pool my enthusiasm and motivation quickly left.  I was frustrated and mildly depressed as I left the pool defeated.  I soon realized that my problem was starting with an unrealistic expectation, followed by no real plan on how to implement my resolution.  But then I developed a plan to get me back on track. Here are some steps that will keep you on the path to healthy changes too:

  • Research your goal before starting any change to know all the options and paths.

  • Ask a friend to join in.

  • Communicate to friends and loved ones so you have support and encouragement, as well as critical assistance for when you hit pitfalls.

  • Avoid impulsive decisions that can lead to overwhelming feelings.

  • Focus on multistep planning with smaller goals so you feel success along the way.

  • Speak with experts about how to best reach your goal.

  • Determine the best environment for success.  For example, you might need to get yourself out of your house to avoid distractions.  This small step can start your positive change.

  • Recognize that fear, which often materializes as irrational and negative self-talk that, may try to derail your efforts.

  • Analyze where you succeeded and failed in the past.  This process can illuminate possible patterns.

  • Replace the word “perfect” with the term “to the best of my ability” (a recovery term) because change always includes ups and downs.

  • Remember that one set back does not end the journey…move on with the lessons learned.

Fortunately when I hit the wall, both literally and figuratively, on my first day of my swimming resolution, I had a strong support system of friends in place to encourage me through my defeat.  I am now trying my goal in “human size bites” without the bar of achievement too high.

Implementing change requires coping strategies and lots of support.  Find a mentor, a coach, a therapist or support from a community, spiritual or religious group to help you move forward with your changes.  It is my personal experience that without this support change is a very lonely and daunting task.  Asking for help is a courageous first step on your new journey.  Take all your initial determination to achieve your goal and harness it into making a realistic plan for positive, healthy change.  Wishing you new beginnings for an optimistic life.


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