We’re fresh into a new year and the goals that were set are either going strong or may already be turning into old news. Regardless of the current status of your New Year’s goal(s), there are some basic components that are vital to making you successful at achieving them. Here are a few that you should add to your personal toolkit for successful behavior change this year.
Readiness. Keep in mind that goals, whether they’re health, career, financial, social, or family related goals, should be set at a time when you’re ready to make a commitment to them. We always use the New Year as the starting point to change out our “bad” behaviors for healthy ones, but for some of us that is not always the ideal time. You should start working on your plan whenever you feel the time is appropriate.
Healthy Mindset. Creating and pursuing any goal requires a healthy mindset. This involves understanding and accepting the challenges that are associated with making a behavior change. Don’t let yourself fall into the “all or nothing” mindset and expect perfection through this process, the mindset we all seem to apply to most health related goals. If you didn’t brush your teeth one night would you stop brushing them completely? If you miss a workout or you binge on your favorite sweet snack, don’t dwell on these instances. Instead, use them as a learning experience, and use the next opportunity to get back in line with your plan.
Confidence. Having self-confidence that you can achieve something can be invaluable. Start by reflecting on past experiences in which you were successful and apply that to your current goal. For instance, if you have an exercise goal, don’t start with a brand new activity you’ve never done before. It is best to start with activities you are more familiar with and build from there.
Motivation. What makes you excited about the goal you set? Make sure the driving force behind your goal is based off something that is important for you, not to please others. External motivators such as a financial award are great initially, but the motivation may not last. If you have a personal, exciting, and strong reason why you set a goal, you will find it to be more effective at helping change a behavior.
Gratitude. Thinking mainly about what has gone wrong is human nature. It’s easy to get caught up in these negative thoughts and let them take over. Outweighing these negative thoughts with positive affirmations and reflections on what is going well can be powerful. Start each day off by writing down at least three positive things that make you feel grateful and optimistic.
Support. The more friends, family, and/or colleagues you can gain support from, the easier changing a behavior becomes. By making those who are closest to you aware of your goals, you can create a more supportive environment with fewer barriers, temptations and distractions.