The first month of the New Year is practically over and many of us may be disappointed in ourselves because we have failed follow through on our plans to make changes or improvements. Why does this happen? No sooner do we start out “great guns” that we fall back to our old ways.
There are a number of things that affect outcomes. One key component to changing behavior is motivation — or lack of motivation. Motivation is strongest if it comes from a true desire to change something…especially for ourselves. It is hard to be motivated to change a behavior for someone else. In order to affect a change that matters, start with something that will benefit YOU such as with your health or self esteem or something as basic as making things go smoother for you.
The second area that can have a big effect on behavior is fear of failure. How many times does someone start and quit a diet, start paying a gym membership and quit going, or throw away a pack of cigarettes only to buy them again. If we do not believe we will be successful or are afraid of ridicule should we not be able to do the task, then it is hard to get started. By not starting and saying “well, I didn’t really try,” we believe we avoided the fear of actual failure. But, if we set a goal and keep it to ourselves, then we avoid the pressure to succeed by outside forces.
Last but not least, if the results are not immediate, we lose faith that it will really work for us. It gets frustrating and we might begin to feel as if we failed. Changing behavior is actually difficult; while keeping old behavior is familiar, safe, and requires little risk or effort. So, we can begin by believing “we can do it” with hard work and that we are worth the effort it takes to make that change.
In summary, we can be successful in changing behavior by remembering the change is ultimately for YOU. Following the steps below will help support you in your effort to be a healthier, happier, renewed you this year. Good luck!
- Small steps increase our chances of being successful. If we keep starting and stopping, then we may have tried to bite off more than we can chew. So, instead of, for example, saying you will go every day to the gym for an hour, go three times a week for a half hour.
- Give yourself time to change. It takes effort and time to make changes in, say, how we eat, quit smoking, or exercising. Keep the long term goal of the behavior change in mind and take small, achievable steps each week towards it. If one day is not successful, then just keep going the next. This way, slowly, you will actually achieve your goal.
- Don’t think you’re going to fail. It is helpful to keep in mind that long term changes will keep improving over time..that they do not happen overnight. So, if one day isn’t going they way we hoped, then we can figure out what got in the way and change our approach for tomorrow.
- Believe in yourself. Share your goal with someone who will be supportive of you. Don’t tell your plans to people you think will judge you or make you feel you failed if the goal takes a long time.
Now, get out there and get your goals done!
— Kathy Miller, Owner