When December 1st hits I feel like every tick of the clock is amplified because with the end of the month comes the end of the year, perhaps the end of a decade or a century. Every day ends, every month ends but the end of December is somehow more significant. Conversely the monumental end of the month of December also brings the enormous beginning of a fresh and hopeful new year, a renewed commitment to old and new goals and old and new resolutions.
Resolutions are in the air. What are resolutions anyway? Promises we try to make to ourselves to do something different or better than ever before. Isn’t that the premise of change?
Whether graduating from school, going off to college, switching career paths, dieting or turning a new age, the word “change” is the main ingredient. For most of us change is very scary and hard to start; goals are hard to set. If we are lucky enough to get started on a change, on obtaining an elusive goal, it is even harder to continue and see it through. For some of us change is exciting, exhilarating. The path toward success with any type of change is our perspective about the change and our attitude throughout the change. The idea of “different” has most of us envious of those who accomplish their changes, meeting their goals and/or running for the hills when thought about in terms of ourselves.
Amy Wrzesniewski, a researcher at Yale University, came up with the term “job crafting” for individuals who completely enjoyed their jobs but they were also making little changes that made their job more enjoyable. In terms of life changes at this time of year I suggest “life crafting”. To put it simply, doing small things, taking baby steps to make your life more rewarding. People can change but at what cost? Change is a shift in identity. We can play with our identities and imagine many possibilities for our lives. Think about someone you know who has made a change, big or small. How did that person seem to behave through the change and as a result of changing? How did you feel in your reaction to that persons change? Now, think about yourself as you are today and in one year from today. If everything about the changes you want to make has gone as well as could be hoped for…
1- What would the person you hoped to become look like?
2- What would the changed life feel like?
3- What is something small that you can do right now to take steps toward that better, resolute, changed life?
Making resolutions, promises to ourselves to change what we don’t like or increase power to what is already working is vital to our well-being. In support for our natural desire to change Robert –Biswas Diener says, “Goals are future-oriented benchmarks that help us organize our behavior. By establishing goals, both large and small, we establish a gauge for success, a guide for making decisions, and a target to move toward. In the absence of goals we tend to flounder.”
According to Jeremy McCarthy of psychologyofwellbeing.com, there are 10 strategies for accomplishing change, goals, and greatness.
1- Know that change is possible.
2- Know that change is not easy.
3- Keep your eye on the prize BUT know that there will be hurdles to overcome.
4- Don’t focus only on the goal, the change or only on the hurdles. Find a balance of foucs.
5- Want the changes you seek. For example, “What would make me want to lose weight? “What would make me want to do more exercises? “What would make me want to stick to my goals for change?
6- What is the smallest, easiest step to take that you know you can’t fail? For example if writing a book is one of your goals, try writing one sentence per day and before you know it you’ll have the makings of your book. It’s a step that there can be no excuses attached to.
7- Recognize that there will be setbacks and plan for them. For example, IF I want to go to the gym to exercise after work and a colleague asks me to go to happy hour after work THEN I will either meet up with that colleague after my work out or get up early the next morning to go to the gym.
8- Strengthen your will power. This can be done through meditation or personal challenges to test your resilience.
9- Dig in and keep going. Persevere. Work hard to achieve your end result.
10- Know when to let goals go. Sometimes, but rarely, will you realize that the path you are taking toward your change, toward your goal is not the right path. Be flexible enough to recognize that signs of a bad plan and be open enough to change course, change the plan but not give up on the idea of where you want to go.
In this new year that is fast approaching I wish you strength, perseverance and open mindedness toward your changes, your goals and your resolutions. Happy New Year!!!