Guest Author - Gayle E. Santana
Itís that time of year again when everyone makes a vow to change their lives by making sweeping changes in the form of resolutions. A resolution is basically a promise to resolve a problem or to make something happen that you really want or donít want in your life. A resolution can be something minor like deciding you will stop biting your nails (maybe thatís not so minor to some people) or something major like changing a career or healthful like deciding to lose weight or to quit smoking.
In fact, this time of year is prime time for advertisers who try to fit right into your plan. Weight loss and exercise are easily in the top ten resolutions people make and donít advertisers know it. If you donít believe me, just pay attention to the commercials and emails that you see from this day throughout the entire month of January. Hereís an email I just received this morning: ďLose up to 20 Pounds in a Day!Ē Letís get real. If you manage to lose 20 pounds in one day, you had better see your doctorófast.
Many people think that buying a gym membership or a miracle product will help them to achieve the resolution, but here is the bottom line. If you want to make real and meaningful change and turn your resolutions into accomplishments, you have to create a habit.
According to research it takes 21 days to make a habit. For most people, what happens when it comes to resolutions is that in as early as two or three days after making a resolution, theyíve already forgotten about it. In order to be successful in making this resolution a part of your life, you will need to remind yourself everyday, for at least 21 days and beyond, that this is something you really want to do. You will also need to schedule actions that support it.
I know from my own experience, that pairing this resolution with an activity you do daily can help--like drinking your morning coffee. My morning coffee is more than just grabbing a cup because I long ago realized that this could be a very meaningful and productive time for me. In fact, my writing is generally done at this time. In what I deem ďThe Coffee HourĒ itís about more than drinking coffee for me. It is time I spend alone with my thoughts, uninterrupted, waking to my day. It is here that I make the connection between my former resolutions--which are now habits--and my daily life.
In order for a resolution to become more than a passing fancy, you have to make an impression upon your mind and then schedule the action. Every morning when I am done with my coffee and writing, I know the next action is exercise. Iíve done this for way more than 21 days so my mind and my environment are already prepped. My actions support my resolve. I get up and immediately get dressed for it. The DVD is already in the DVD player or whatever else I need to support my workout choice for that day. My coffee hour and exercise time is scheduled early enough in the morning that I wonít be interrupted by that ringing phone or family member. This is how you can set yourself up for success in making your resolutions happen.
Are there days when it doesnít happen? Of course! But because Iíve made this a habit my mind has now come to expect this action. It automatically begins to nag me when I donít follow through.
Even if your morning coffee is not an event as it is for me, you can still use it to help. Letís say youíve decided to eat healthier. You could leave a note on your coffee maker reminding you to plan your menu for the day or write your shopping list. If you are picking up your cup, here is where you can remind yourself to get the skinny latte every morning or to replace the donut or fatty muffin with something lighter.
If you want to stop smoking and youíve had the habit of smoking after your morning cup, in addition to getting help from your doctor, family, nicotine replacement products, etc., you will need to replace this action with an alternative action. An example might be as simple as chewing minty gum and focusing on how fresh your mouth feels or getting some exercise immediately following and noticing how great your body is feeling.
The fact is that you will need to remind yourself everyday and sometimes every minute of every day in order for your resolution to become more than just a fleeting thought. And pairing this with something you already do everyday can replace your desire for more in your life with a feeling of accomplishment in having made that resolution stick when the next New Year rolls around.
Hereís to a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year!