I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I already spend enough time feeling disappointed in myself, I don’t need to start each year by setting myself up for failure again.
It’s taken a little over 40 years, but I’m starting to learn a few things about how to create real transformation in my life.
It doesn’t work to try to stop behaviors, especially by using guilt or shame. Instead, I’m trying to focus on the adopting new behaviors and finding ways to make them as pleasurable as possible.
It’s hard for me to stick with an exercise regimen. I’ve tried gym memberships, exercise classes, and martial arts, which all worked for awhile, but the one thing that’s working for me now is wearing a pedometer. I got a Fitbit, and besides tracking my steps, it shows me how many steps my friends have taken. I’m rather competitive, so if I see that I’m only a hundred steps behind one of my friends, I’ll purposely walk an extra hundred steps, even if it’s just in circles. I like at the end of the day that I get “credit” and visibility for my workouts.
I still eat way too much sugar and low-density carbs (mostly pastries), but I’m trying to also eat as many vegetables and drink as much water as I can. Over time, I’m hoping that the healthy food I eat will outweigh the junk food.
Cutting tasks down to size makes them easier to achieve. I love reading novels, and I hope one day to write one. I’ve started story after story only to get frustrated and quit. So, just recently, I’ve started writing short short stories, only about 3 pages or so, and building up my confidence that I can in fact tell stories, I just need to start small.
Getting a buddy to do the new behavior also helps a lot. My friend and I have started taking our younger kids for walks while our older kids are in their martial arts class. We both get to exercise and socialize at the same time.
Visualizing your future self can be a motivator. I picture myself happy, healthy, and laughing with my grandchildren some day. I know that if I don’t value and take care of myself today, I may not be around to meet them. Investing in my health and wellbeing pays off in my children’s and my grandchildren’s lives too.
Every now and then, look back at how far you’ve come. Reflect on how much you’ve learned and grown. Look at the wonderful people you’ve surrounded yourself with. Sometimes being able to transform yourself is to remember that you’ve already done it many times.
Embrace every attempt at transformation with gratitude. Whatever happened during the day, whether you did a great job or continued some behaviors you’d prefer to let go of, be grateful for your life and all the blessings in it. Maybe you ate too much junk food, but maybe you also smiled at a stranger.
What do you do to make long-lasting change in your life?