Are you trying to make changes in your life right now? This is certainly the time of year when people begin a new diet plan or exercise regimen, vow to stop smoking or drinking, or discontinue some other undesirable habit. But making permanent lifestyle changes is difficult to say the least. Many people try and fail over and over again. This gets frustrating and ultimately evokes hopelessness. A lot of people eventually give up trying to change their behaviors. Making lifestyle changes that stick will take more than just vowing to change or setting a resolution to change. Here are a few tips to get you started:
· Set small, achievable goals that will eventually lead you to make the big changes you desire. This involves breaking down the process, which can be overwhelming and difficult for many. Think about the smallest and easiest things you can do first and build from there.
· Explore your expectations and develop realistic ones. Many people have very high expectations for themselves when they set out to make big changes. All or nothing thinking is very common here. Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably expect.
· Build a support system and engage these people in your life. This might be an accountability partner, a support group, a counselor, a nutritionist, a trainer, or other professional. The more people you have in various areas of your life, the better. You will need support. Very few people can make difficult changes alone. Also, remember to not engage those who are unsupportive. This means you will have to determine the difference between the supportive and unsupportive people in your life, and then be intentional about whom you surround yourself.
If any of these three tips seems too difficult to tackle, a trained professional counselor can help get you started on the right path! Making an investment in therapy can have big payoffs for the long haul.
Stacey Wald, LPC, RD