Lots of people do it: they list their New Year's Resolutions with great determination and resolve. This year, I am going to stop smoking. Lose weight. Get in shape. Find a new job. Learn a language. Whatever. And the promises are made with the very best of intentions. We really, really want to make those changes that we feel are going to make our lives and our selves better. Problem is, by the time January 15th rolls around, most people have forgotten or plain given up. And that leads to all sorts of old patterns repeating themselves, not to mention a big, fat dent in the ol' ego.
But there's really another way. A way that not only works, also increases the likelihood of success, no matter what changes you wish to make.
Think about this: if you have to make a resolution, it's quite likely to be something you should have done long ago. Or yesterday. Or even just last week. So why torture yourself with this huge year-long battle? Why set yourself up for failure like that? Instead, you might like to take a few 'facts' along with you, and start right here, right now...no matter what DATE it is.
It's a scientifically proven fact that it takes 21 days to form a habit. No kidding! TWENTY ONE DAYS. So, let's say you want to lose some weight. Today, every time you're hungry, eat something. Doesn't matter what time it is or if it's really "lunch" or "dinner" or first thing in the morning. If you're hungry, eat. If you're only eating because you're angry or lonely or bored, do not eat. Do something to get your blood moving. Take a walk. Write a note to a friend and mail it. Read a passage from your favorite book or start a new one. Go play with the dog. Do something to take your mind off the food because you know it's just a habit, not malnourishment! If you take about 3 minutes to distract yourself, chances are the urge to eat will pass. Same goes with smoking. The urge is only momentary. The extra food you do not need because your belly is already full is not momentary. If it goes in your mouth, you're going to wear it.
Now, I can say this to you, because I've had my share of replacing habits too. And that's precisely what you're going to do. Replace a habit. Not quit. Not stop. Not agonize. Just simply replace. And how you do this is one moment at a time. One hour, one part of the day, one day at a time. Next thing you know, it's tomorrow. And you get to do it all over again. Only this time, it's easier. Because you already did it once. So, of course you can do it again! And don't be fooled by what you "see". This is no indication of progress. Rather, pay more attention to how you feel. Because the better you feel about yourself, the more likely it is that you'll continue with your habit replacement, regardless of what it is.
I tell you all this now, because we're a mere 5 days into the new year. Already I'm hearing from folks about how they've "messed up" or changed their minds or just decided that it isn't time yet. There are millions of excuses to allow ourselves to not follow through with things that, just a few days ago, seemed so important to us. It's got nothing to do with willpower or weakness. It's got everything to do with wanting to make changes and finding ways to do so without angst. The angst won't get you anywhere good. I promise you that. When change is what you want, you must find a way to make that change in a way that makes you feel GOOD! In a nutshell, it really is that easy.Yes, I know this sounds all too simple, but I'm tellin' ya, it really is that simple. When you can find ways to make changes that make you feel good while you're doing it, it's about as easy as saying no to your child when he asks for drugs. That easy.
So, from me to you, on this fifth day of 2009, I wish you a joyful path to the changes you wish to make. I wish you a giggle and a hug for the toughest moments, and a great big high-five for the easier ones. I know you can make whatever changes you want. But, the real question is: do YOU know it?
Happy THIS day!
Camille Strate is a writer and critter keeper living in the foothills of Southern California. She's currently working on her second yet-to-be-named book as well as opening a new shop on Etsy called WoodWitch Enterprises, where she'll be offering her wood crafted wares for your enjoyment. For more on her work and who she is, visit her site at http://www.joyzachoice.com