New Year New You: How to make Lasting Change

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As the new year begins most of us feel hopeful that this year will be different, that we will finally meet the goals we set for ourselves, that we will fulfill our new years resolutions instead of forgetting about them halfway through February. However, fantasizing about what we hope will happen over the course of the year is only a first step. If we stop with the fantasy it is likely that we will find ourselves disappointed when we don’t meet our goals. In this post, I highlight the steps that are necessary to make real change so that you can ensure your new years resolutions come to fruition this year.

Move beyond the fantasy 

Fantasies about the future are alluring, they pull us into a feeling of euphoria as we imagine how wonderful the future will be. These fantasies can be inspiring and motivating and if we stay in them too long  it is easy to get stuck and not see progress. After you spend time thinking about what you want to see for yourself over the next year, it is important to move beyond the fantasy and begin the work of achieving the goals you have set for yourself. I encourage you to try to enjoy the process of achieving your goals in order to sustain the changes you are making so you aren’t just waiting to get to the finish line. 

Break your goals down into small steps 

Big goals and dreams are hard to make happen unless they are broken down into small, manageable steps. For example, if you have the goal of getting your body ready for the beach this summer it is important to identify the steps you are going to take to develop a sustainable workout plan and a plan for eating well. How many times a week will you work out? What time of day? Where will you work out? What will you do? Setting out all of these details will help you to follow through. If you have specific goals and resolutions I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the small steps you will take each day to help you achieve your goal.

Commit through the tedious times 

Real change often requires pushing through tedious periods. When you are not seeing progress as quickly as you hoped and the luster of posting on social media about your goals has worn off, that is when we have to commit to the hard work of achieving our goals. Working hard at something can feel vulnerable and pushing through the tedious times involves acknowledging fears that things might not work out as you hoped and continuing to try anyway. Imagine that you’re hiking up a mountain, on this hike there will be wonderful times when you’re taking in the views, fresh, air, and beautiful plants and there will be other times when your legs are burning, your back starts aching, and you feel hot and thirsty. You have to push through the uncomfortable aspects of the hike to get to the top of the mountain.

Acknowledge the loss that comes with change 

Part of making real change involves acknowledging the reason that we haven’t been doing the work to achieve our goals. Often things that seem harmful or problematic on the surface have elements that serve us. When working with clients who want to change something in their lives I guide them to explore the “positive” aspects of the things they want to change before we work to address the issue. For example, if you spend a lot of time worrying about the future, it is important to acknowledge that spending time worrying can provide temporary relief from uncertainty even though in the long run is unhelpful. Acknowledging the loss inherent in doing something different can help you respond constructively to difficult emotions that may arise as you move forward.

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One thought on “New Year New You: How to make Lasting Change

  1. Pingback: Stuck, Not Broken: Understanding Mental Illness | Dr. Adia Shani

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