Even if it’s something you don't want to admit, there's something a little crazy about waking up on January 1 with the idea that all your old habits and patterns will suddenly disappear, and you'll finally be able to create the life you've always wanted for yourself.
Newsflash: Old habits die hard. Let's be serious for a minute here: If implementing change was such an easy process, then why do most of us have to start over every single year?
Let's all do ourselves a favor and cut through the New Year's resolution bullsh*t and get right to the point: Changing your life is hard.
What they don’t tell you about the process of change is that if you’re not willing to dig deep, you’re probably going to do exactly what you do every single year.
You start off excited and motivated, become a little burnt out by day 20, fall off track for a few days, get back on track for a few days, but eventually just say, "Screw it" and throw in the towel.
There's always next year.
It's time to change the way we change; slow and steady wins the race. So, don’t be sloppy about your goals; don’t rush the process, and most importantly, don’t miss all the important lessons along the way.
Instead, approach the difficulties of changing your life in a very simple, but structured way.
1. Pick one goal and write it down.
It's important to be extremely detailed about your goal. Instead of just saying, “I want to lose weight,” you should pick the amount of weight you want to lose and the date by which you want to achieve this. For instance, "I want to lose 25 pounds by May 20, 2015."
2. Get to know your goal.
Chances are this isn't the first time you've attempted to make this kind of change, so it's crucial that before you even begin the process, you need to understand how and why you got here in the first place.
Write down everything you've done before to try and achieve this goal of yours. Write down what it means to you, why you want it and all the bad habits that have prevented you from being successful with this goal so far.
3. Break down the goal.
Now that you've set your big goal for the year and written down everything it means to you, the next step is look at all the components that come with your goal.
For example, if your goal is to lose those 25 pounds by May 20, and you tell yourself you’ll work out every single day for the next month, you're probably going to throw in the towel either before the 30 days end or just a few days after.
Why? Because the goal you've set for yourself is too much, too soon. To avoid this looming burnout, start with ONE small change that helps you work towards that goal. Here are a few examples:
1. Eat breakfast every day for the next week
2. Walk 8,000 steps six days this week
3. Go the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next two weeks
Start with one goal at a time and give yourself the chance to do it in a non-obsessive way. Once you accomplish that goal, you can start adding on more.
4. Write down how you feel.
You have to accept the fact that you're not going to always be excited about this new journey of yours and writing down how you feel during the moment you feel it is a great way to move forward and stay on track.
Why do we think that going to the gym every day for the next month is going to make all of our vices go away? To clue you in, it won’t.
But, that’s okay; embrace those ups and downs. They’re part of the process.
Get those feelings outside of your head and onto some paper because once you're able to see how you feel, you're more likely to stay on track and push yourself to keep going.
5. Tell someone about your new plan.
Accountability is key. Letting people know what you're trying to change will help you stick to your goals. Post it on Facebook, share Instagram pictures, blog about it or tell your best friend. This is a journey and everyone benefits from some support and accountability along the way.
Remember that long-term change doesn’t happen overnight, or even in the first month. Maybe you have more bad days than good ones, but if you can teach yourself how to get back on track more quickly each time you fall, you can create the life you've always wanted for yourself.