We all have those days when the intentions are good but the energy is lacking. Here's how to stay on track.
Most of us, myself included, are a mixture of good habits and less than great ones. Occasionally we tidy up our loose ends or try to change our tendencies in some area. We often have our heart in the right place, but the willpower alone won't get you through.
Popular examples include:
So let's look at some specific strategies to make your resolutions stick.
Tip # 1 Be more specific.
What does it mean to check email less frequently? Are you going to “try to be better about it” and hope that works? Will you set specific days or certain times when you will be unavailable? Will you check email on weekends? Will you process email only on your computer?
What, exactly, is moderate drinking? Is it one drink per week? Five drinks per week? Ten drinks per week? Without a specific measure how will you know if you are making progress?
What does it mean to save more? More is not a number. How much is more? When will you save? Every month? Every paycheck?
What does eating healthier look like on a daily basis? Does that mean you eat more servings of vegetables? If so, how many more? Do you want to start by eating a healthy meal once per day? Twice per day? Every meal?
But if something is important to you and it isn't yet an automatic behaviour, then you should make your intention very clear. Consider the following alternatives:
Tip #2 Make the old habit tricky to revert to and the new habit easy to do.
These statements simplify your decision-making by forcing you to choose the right thing. These statements make action steps precise and obvious. Vague promises will never lead to clear results.
The examples above focus primarily on building new behaviours, but you can also break bad habits or eliminate old behaviours this way.
For example, if you were interested in becoming a vegetarian, you might start by saying, “I don’t eat red meat.” The goal is not to change everything at once, but to take a very clear and 100% stand in one small area. You are establishing a preliminary habit in the direction of your goal.
Over time, you can move your goal forward and add other behaviours such as "I don't eat meat or fish."
The third strategy after being specific about your goal and setting up your environment so that you don't have the choice to revert back to your old habit is to identify with the new habit.
Tip #3 Identify with the new habit
When you don't have your new identity established and you choose not to do something, the tendency is to say, “Oh, I can't do it this time.” Conversely, when you do have your identity clearly set, your response can simply be, “No thanks, I don't do that.” You are following a new identity that you have created for yourself. You shift the conversation from one of sacrifice to one of empowerment.
**Most people think they are moderators but when it comes to drinking, the vast majority of us do well as abstainers if we're trying to limit our intake. It's easier to say no to the first glass and all subsequent ones "because you're someone who doesn't drink" than it is to figure out when and how is enough. If you do go the moderator path and find it tricky to stick to it
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