It’s tempting when we are thinking about make changes to our lives to start with some big, headliners. We’ve all heard those bold promises at the start of a new year where someone states that they will be:
- Taking up something new – exercise/fitness, job/career, skill/hobby etc.
- Giving up something – alcohol, smoking, chocolate or meat etc.
- Saving more money (or spending less money).
Whilst it’s commendable to see this much passion, it’s not unusual for these promises to fall by the wayside usually only a few weeks/months after they have been made.
Why do they fail?
Often they fail, and you find yourself slipping back to old ways, because your plans are just too big. Let’s face it, the most difficult part of a new habit is getting started. It takes effort, courage, motivation and resilience to go outside your usual comfort zone and embrace new behaviours. Once you have done it a few times, it’s less overwhelming, but it’s that initial bit we struggle with.
With this also comes other factors including a lack of preparation and planning, no accountability structure, making changes because others want us to change, not having the right environment to facilitate change, limited external support and/or seeking an outcome rather than focusing on the journey to get there.
For all of these reasons, when advising and coaching others to embrace and implement change I always talk about the key to success as starting small. You need to start with something that seems easy and reasonable to do each day. It needs to be non-threatening and you need to build your behaviours first.
For example, if you want to read more books, start by reading two pages every night. And if you want to be able to run a 5K, start walking twice a week and encourage yourself to jog for 30 seconds every five minutes. These initial habits, or as we know them routines, can then be increased over time.
State your intentions
When it comes to the start of a new year, I choose to approach it more like a year-end review of what’s gone well and what hasn’t, plus what’s exceeded my expectations and what has fallen short. I usually look at both my business and my personal life. I then make some key decisions on what I want to expand on regarding my focus, energy, time and financial investment, for the next year and what needs to change.
Essentially, I need to answer some important questions. What are the key themes I want to expand on and bring into focus year, and what are my preferred outcomes? Then I create a concrete plan with steps and milestones for achieving what I believe will generate more happiness and reward. And I always get outside help when I need it and continually assess these plans and steps, making any tweaks along the way.
How I can help
If you’re looking to make some personal development changes and need help and support, please get in touch. I can make a real difference to your chances of success and of developing positive and better behaviours that will stick over time.