At the beginning of every year, along with everyone else in the world, you probably make resolutions. Most involve changing certain habits. For example, cultivating a more positive mindset, or better organizational skills. However, it’s more than likely that you’ll abandon these challenges almost as soon as you’ve started. That’s because you don’t know how to change your bad habits without making yourself suffer.
If you think about the moment of starting these transformations, words like effort, sacrifice, laziness, struggle, and obligation probably come to mind. In this way, a process that should be pleasant and exciting becomes an imposition that suffocates you and you end up hating it. How can you change things? Here are some guidelines.
1. Look for a good reason
If you want to be successful, you must find a valid and compelling reason for making the changes you want to make. It’ll be what you turn to when you have doubts or want to give up.
This reason should really come from within you. It should be related to self-love, self-care, and self-realization. It mustn’t be based on the opinions or demands of others.
For example, if you want to lose weight to avoid social rejection and to conform to certain ‘standards’, the process will feel like an endless burden and you’ll face it with feelings of resentment, shame, or guilt. On the other hand, if your aim is to feel good, improve your health, and gain agility, you’ll feel far more connected to your goal.
In the same way, if you’re wanting to expand your social circle, it’ll be easier for you to achieve it if you really want to meet and connect with other people. However, if you don’t really want to and are only taking the plunge just because everyone else around you has an active social life and you feel different, your attempts will feel forced and uncomfortable.
2. Pick the right moment
Normally, you make resolutions on certain specific dates. For instance, at the beginning of the week, the month, or the year. Nevertheless, these times may not be the most suitable for you.
In fact, you need to tackle these kinds of challenges at a time in your life when you feel calm, confident, and motivated. If you feel sad, anxious, or excessively frustrated, set to work on these emotions first. They’re not the best starting point for any project.
3. Watch your words
The language you use has more power than you think. Therefore, ensure you pay attention to your words. First of all, stop defining yourself. If you’ve been a certain way in one aspect of your life for a long time, you’ll be used to labeling yourself in that manner, and you’ll continue to do so, almost unconsciously.
“It’s just that I’m so lazy”, “I always leave everything to the last minute”, “I’m just clueless”, “I have a really bad temper”, “I eat really badly”… Do these types of expressions sound familiar to you? If so, make sure you abandon them. Stop saying them and thinking about them because, by doing, so you’re perpetuating the image of yourself that you want to leave behind. Start seeing, thinking, and talking about yourself as the person you want to become.
On the other hand, discard expressions such as “I must” or “I have to” when you’re referring to the new habits you want to implement. Instead, replace them with others that denote desire or will, not obligation. For example, instead of saying “I have to go for a run” say “I’m going to go for a run”; instead of stating “I have to learn to set boundaries” say “I want to learn to set boundaries”. These little nuances make a big difference.
4. Set small easy goals
Make sure you set realistic goals that you can easily achieve and that allow you to progressively reward and recognize your achievements. Looking for a radical change in a short time only leads to feelings of frustration, despair, and discouragement and, ultimately, will make you quit. Therefore, divide your objectives into small goals that act as rungs on your ladder toward the new version of you.
Try to recognize and value each advance. Don’t overlook or underestimate them. In this way, you’ll be able to enjoy your process and not suffer it, feeling more proud of yourself every day. To do this, every evening, review your day and write down the objectives that you’ve met.
5. Be flexible
This last recommendation is, without a doubt, one of the most important. That’s because rigidity and excessive self-demand make changing habits an unpleasant experience. However, being flexible means that you allow yourself breaks and even setbacks along the way. Indeed, you need to know that these will happen and may even be necessary at certain times. They’re not synonymous with failure.
If you haven’t been able to exercise, it’s not the end of the world. If you lost your temper again and raised your voice in an argument, be compassionate with yourself. It doesn’t destroy what you’ve already achieved. You’re not always going to act perfectly. Life happens and you have to adapt. Remember that a change of habits is for life and you must allow room for unforeseen events, changes in plans, and exceptional circumstances.
Finally, a change of habits must arise from a deep conviction, be based on personal reasons, and occur at the right time, calmly and flexibly. Hurrying, being too demanding with yourself, and feeling obligated are the worst enemies of this process, making it an act of sacrifice instead of self-love. Therefore, take care of the perspective from which you start along the path. This could prove to be a real turning point.
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