The beginning of the new year often brings people to re-evaluate their last 365 days and look forward to the “new beginnings” that the next 365 offer; however, what many people don’t know is that over half the population, maybe more, forget what their resolution even was by Valentine’s Day. They think that because the numbers on the end of the date read differently now, it suddenly means that they are capable of making a change in their lives.
Disclaimer: the rest of the article may burst your bubble.
Myth: You have to wait until “Monday” or a new month or a new year to do something about whatever you’re unhappy with.
Fact: Most people just use this as an excuse because they are not yet ready for change.
Change happens in a moment.
Let me repeat this. Change happens in a moment. In one moment, you decide to do something differently. In one moment, you take action toward this decision. In one moment, you decide to continue making this change. Change doesn’t take a long time like many have lead you to believe. You don’t have to wait until Monday or until a new year. In fact, if you do, you will likely not stick with it as long or it won’t be a lasting change.
You may have decided to “stop” doing something this year. Maybe it’s a negative behavior. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s to be a better person or be more kind; however, when you force yourself to “stop” this, when you start eating the package of Twinkies again after you get your ideal summer body or likely closely after you’re still single this Valentine’s Day, you reaffirm the negative beliefs about yourself and functionally lower your confidence in your ability to create lasting change and take control of your life.
Luckily, there is a way to stop waiting until Monday. Here’s the secret:
1. Make it easier for yourself.
If you want to eat healthier, don’t wait until tomorrow or Monday, start today. Change happens in a moment. Something you can do to make a step toward that change is creating a smaller change in this moment, simply by going through your kitchen pantry and throwing away the unhealthy foods. Maybe it’s writing down a bunch of healthy recipes and creating a grocery list. Maybe it’s getting an accountability partner. Maybe it’s watching the Food Network to see how to prepare fresh foods. You get to decide.
2. Choose an accountability partner.
Change is easier on you if you have a team supporting you. I don’t mean like a football
team; I mean people you have on your side. The people who are cheering for you on your
side of the ring. People who struggle with addiction and are on a sobriety path often stay
sober longer if they have the support of like-minded individuals. For example, if you are
trying not to drink but your social system goes out for happy hours twice a week, you
likely end up either isolating yourself by simply not going anymore or going and
surrounding yourself with tables and menus full of temptation.
So what do you do? You find groups, take classes, or attend meetings in the community that force you to meet people doing the same thing as you. Find a person--a friend, a loved one, a family member, a boss--who can keep you on track. Someone who can knock the Butterfinger out of your hand. Someone who will call you at 6am to make sure you’re meeting him at the gym. Someone who will go to places without the alcohol because they value your friendship and want you to succeed. Choose those people.
You don’t have to be a completely different person to implement change. You can change things in your life and still be you. BUT, what you might find is that you may actually change along the way. And guess what, you may actually like the person you’re becoming.
3. Change your mindset.
This change you want to happen in your life is probably something you have tried before and failed. Why? Well, you may not have wanted it badly enough or you may have began to find excuses why you could have “one more cigarette” or “one more night of drinking” and that you will again, “start tomorrow”. However, for many of you, tomorrow never comes. And if it does, it may only be short-lived.
If you want everlasting change, you cannot think of changing for anyone else. You cannot
change just for a season. You change because you want a different lifestyle. You change
because you want to improve your relationships. You change because you are sick and
tired of being in the same position you have been in for years. You change because
you’ve hit rock bottom and maybe there is no other choice. You change because you’re no longer afraid of it. You change because staying the same scares you more than change. You change, not for a season, but with the mindset that going back to your old habits is not an option.
It takes at least 30 days to change a habit. Thirty days of consciously putting in effort to choose to change. After that, you still have to choose. You still have to make the decisions to not go back to the way things were; however, it tends to get easier. Change no longer means having that battle in your head between the Butterfinger and Apple. Change begins to mean becoming a better, healthier, and happier version of yourself. Isn’t that what we all want?
As we enter yet another New Year, choose not a resolution. Instead, I encourage you to
choose to become the type of person you know you are capable of becoming. The person that’s life coincides with his or her values. The type of person that is no longer afraid of change, but one who embraces it.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the story of Velveteen Rabbit. It goes like this:
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time."
Choose your first step towards taking control of your life. Change happens in a moment.
When's your moment?
*For more blog posts by Robin, visit her website at www.myrisestory.com.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT