Make Lasting Changes--Despite Your Challenges

Why It's Not Too Late For Those Resolutions

John Lund/ Getty Images

If at the beginning of February, you took a look at your lifestyle and found that it wasn't profoundly different from the beginning of January--or at least it wasn't different in the ways that you had hoped!--you may be starting to doubt your ability to make important, stress-relieving changes in your life.

Don't worry--if you haven't made lasting changes yet, that's no indication that you are unable to make changes.

 It may just be part of the process; change doesn't come overnight, and it often comes with some progress as well as some back-sliding, before more progress, and ultimately, changed habits.  But many people start to feel discouraged at this point in the journey.  (At least you're in good company!)

Countless people find themselves doing the same thing around this time of year. Gym parking lots--always so packed during the month of January--start seeing more vacant parking spots. Schedules start filling up again, dessert starts looking better and better. If you're trying to change from sheer willpower and perfectionistic adherence to a stringent code of desired behavior for yourself, you may start feeling fatigued. You may have already slipped, or fallen off the wagon completely. You may be wondering if it's worth the effort to make changes.

First, I can tell you that it absolutely is! If you're reading this, it means that you care about making healthy changes in your life and want to relieve stress.

Your goals aren't the problem, and using the new year as a springboard for change can work out very well. (And if you're one of the readers who didn't set goals for January, I implore you to take the opportunity to set some now!) But perhaps you're succumbing to common pitfalls that many people find challenging.

This is all part of the process. In fact, with my coaching clients, I always mention that somewhere between Week 3 and Week 8, we usually see a dip in progress--the initial excitement of reaching new goals has worn off, and the work is starting to feel more challenging. The following are common impediments to change:

  • Perfectionism: are you expecting perfection immediately, or are you gradually working up to your goal?
  • All-Or-Nothing Thinking: if you find yourself slipping up, are you tempted to give up completely, or do you consider slipups to be a normal part of the process?
  • Pessimism: do you consider backsliding a sign that you're not cut out to make these changes, or do you congratulate yourself when you catch the backsliding, knowing that redirecting yourself back toward your goal is a big step toward success?
  • Support: do you have people in your life making the achievement of goals more difficult for you, or easier?
  • Flexibility: do you stick with a plan that doesn't fit your lifestyle until you can't take it anymore, or are you able to shift gears and find a plan that does work for you?

    Now is the perfect time to stop and take a look at what's working, what's not working, and why. Success may be as simple as recommitting yourself to trying again, or as involved as examining what's made change difficult so far, and seeing what you can do to overcome your obstacles. But now is the time to take these steps, envisioning your goal and keeping it in your mind for motivation.

    The following links can help:

    Continue Reading