We’re almost three weeks into the new year. Christmas seems like it was so long ago—the baking, decorating, and shopping nothing but a dream. Many resolutions—made with the best of intention—have fallen to the wayside. But that doesn’t change the fact that January is traditionally a time for new beginnings. Even if you haven’t kept your promises to yourself, don’t despair. Simply take a deep breath and begin again.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make huge changes all at once and that’s what dooms us to failure. There are some things you can do to help you succeed:
1. Start small. I’ve found that one small change is easier to keep up and can yield big results. If it’s a health-related resolution, instead of trying to completely flip how you eat, maybe cut out or add one food. Once that’s become a habit, you can make another change. If it’s exercise, commit to fifteen or twenty minutes three or four times a week. If it’s a new skill, promise yourself you’ll practice it at least three times a week for whatever time seems reasonable.
2. Be realistic. This one ties in with starting small. You must be honest with yourself. I know I’m not giving up chocolate. It’s not going to happen. So, I’ve changed the quality and amount I eat. I love 95% dark (I started at 50% and kept working my way up) and it’s surprisingly low in sugar and has antioxidants. That’s a win. I break the bar into squares and have one or two with tea in the evening.
3. Build in rewards. This will vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, but they should be meaningful to you. And they don’t always have to cost money. I allow myself reading time once I get my writing done for the day.
Maybe you’re wanting to journal more consistently. A new journal or pen would be a great reward.
If you want to increase your exercise, maybe a new outfit once you’ve kept to your schedule for a month.
You don’t get to buy new crafting supplies until you finish your latest project.
You get the idea.
4. Get support if you can. This one can be tricky as some friends and family don’t always like it when we try to change. But if you have someone in your life you can trust, then do it. A walking or workout partner can be motivating. Doing a class with a friend will encourage you to keep at it. Meeting once a week for coffee (assuming the pandemic allows in your area) just to check in can boost your resolve.
5. Change isn’t easy and patience is key. Face it, human beings love routine. Most of us have set ways of dealing with all aspects of our lives. I’m not very adventurous and have to force myself to shop at new stores or try new foods. The thing is to have patience with yourself. I know I tend to have more patience for other people than I do for myself, which is something I’m working on. I encourage myself to take tiny steps out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it doesn’t work out well. Other times, the results are something special. The trick is to keep trying.
New beginnings play a huge role in my latest book Bjorn Cursed. No small steps here. The hero and heroine have been separated for years and they’ve both been changed by the challenges they’ve faced. What has remained the same is their love for each other, but that doesn’t mean things will be easy for them. Change never is, but the reward is worth the work and the risk.
I wish you and your families a healthy and wonderful year!
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