Where are those resolutions?

So here we are – six weeks into the new year – and where are those resolutions? True to form, we all have wonderful intentions at the beginning of the year to lose weight, exercise more, perhaps even meditate, but by this time most of us are back to our old ways and beating ourselves up because of it.

So many of us want to improve different areas of our lives because we know we would feel better, but we get waylaid by old habits and the busyness of life. What can we do to make permanent changes in our lives?

There has actually been a lot of research done on making changes. It turns out that the human brain forms new habits in 21 days. In other words, do anything for 21 days and it becomes a habit. However, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, many of us fall off the bandwagon at around January 12th. Here are a few things that I think about when it comes to making lasting changes.

Don’t set yourself up for failure.

The old adage “one step at a time” is actually quite wise in this situation.

The first problem many of us have when we decide to make changes is trying to bite off more than we can chew. We try to make really huge changes happen in our lives that we just can’t keep up with.

For example, how many people have you heard say “I am not eating any carbs after January 1st”? Or “I am going to the gym every day”? An analogy to this would be trying to jump to the top of the stairs all at once. We are setting ourselves up for failure – it is just impossible. But we can get to the top of the stairs by taking “one step at a time”.

So one good way to try and make changes in our lives is to commit to one small step. Maybe it is even just putting our sneakers on every day, until that becomes a habit. Then putting our sneakers on and taking a five minute walk, and so on, and so on. Or perhaps we try to eliminate carbs at one meal – a salad rather than a sandwich at lunch.

The bottom line is, we are much more likely to succeed if we make commitments that are achievable.

Be gentle with yourself.

No one really responds well to negativity.

Remember when you were yelled at by someone? Did it at any time inspire you to do better? Or did it in some way, small or large, chip away at your self-esteem? Well, don’t do that to yourself. We are creatures of habit. When we are challenging ourselves to break out of our comfort zone we need to be gentle with ourselves and give ourselves lots encouragement.

After all, it is of utmost importance that we treat ourselves with respect – just how we would like everyone else to treat us. Be your own best cheerleader.

Embark on a new habit.

Spend a lot of time thinking about the changes that you would like to make. See yourself as accomplishing those changes.

Athletes know that they can create muscle memory just by running through their sport in their minds. We can apply that to any change we want to make. We just need to spend time seeing ourselves the way we want to be, rather than the way we are now. What do you look like ten pounds lighter? How do you feel when you are able to run for a full five miles?

Really try and feel your new way of being.

Chronicle your progress.

When we finally do embark on working on our new habit, it is extremely important to chronicle our progress.

Measuring anything changes its very nature, according to my favorite principle – the Heisenberg principle. Also known as the uncertainty principle, or the observer effect, indicates that measuring certain systems cannot be measured without affecting the system.

That means that just measuring our progress can actually change our progress. We can make improvements toward our goal just by documenting it. How cool is that?

So I hope that I have encouraged you and inspired you to get back at those New Year’s resolutions – or more importantly, kinder, gentler, easier to obtain resolutions! Go change your life!