New Year, New Way, New You!
Chances are your inbox will be filled with a hundred or more emails about how you can start off the New Year in the best possible way. You will hear about a zillion new diets, a host of ways to feel better after all the holiday bingeing, and you’ll get dozens of tips on setting goals and making resolutions to feel good and get all that you want from your life.
What if I told you that you don’t need to wait until January 1st? What if I told you that you can start right now…right this very minute? What if I told you that I have a proven method that is so easy that you will think, “Hmmmm….why didn’t I think of that?” What if the power of positive change is right at your fingertips and always has been?
How would you feel if on New Year’s Day you were already on your way to great health and wonderful well-being? It’s absolutely possible and if you continue to read this, you are on your way!
First, let’s look at some of the reasons why we so often struggle with sticking to our goals and making the lasting change we know that is best for us. We all have a Saboteur that lives within us…that resides in our heads. This Saboteur really likes things just the way they are and actually fears change.
“Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain….If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we’ll run from what we’re trying to do.” ~ M. J. Ryan from the book, ‘This Year I Will’
Research has shown that when we set about a task or goal that is too big, our brain rejects it. That is why I always recommend small, easy steps that are realistic because they are actually doable for you. When I work with my clients I incorporate a method called Kaizen which was created by the Japanese and is used throughout the world, both personally and in businesses. Kaizen actually means “good change”. The theory about this method is that we can achieve continuous, incremental improvement through small steps over time that are in alignment with our specific goals and desires.
What it really means in more simple terms is that we break down our tasks into very small steps and then choose the one that is easiest to accomplish first. Your brain recognizes the success in accomplishing that task and virtually opens up, becoming more receptive to the next task.
If you are committing to eating healthier and adding more veggies to your diet, start small. Add a salad to your lunches for a while and then to both lunch and dinner. It will fill you up and you’ll eat less of the other foods. The next step might be to add more chopped veggies to your salads. The step after that could be adding a side veggie to your dinner.
For instance, if your goal would be to cook more meals at home, start with one dinner at home each week. Choose Sunday or a day that would be easiest for you. Eventually add another evening and then start making a lunch or two. Find foods that are already cut up for you and ready to throw quickly together. The easier you make your task, the more likely you are to succeed. The truth is that if you make your changes too big and too fast, you are less likely to stick with it.
Next and as equally important is to announce out loud what you intend to do. You are making a verbal commitment, like a pledge to yourself. Share that commitment with others. This makes it real and alive.
Be accountable to someone else and you will find that you become much more accountable to yourself.
Stay aware of the voice of your Saboteur that may be trying to derail you. Recognize it and shut it down. Remember why you chose to accomplish these goals in the first place. If you start to have doubts, write down three reasons why you want this change. This will reaffirm your commitment and quiet your Saboteur.
Create positive momentum and keep it going. Once you have achieved even the tiniest part of your goal, acknowledge that you now have momentum and that you need to keep the ball rolling. Pat yourself on the back but then tackle the next goal that might just be a bit harder. You can do it. Each time you do, it gets easier.
Let go of perfection! This is the most important of all. We will quickly stop doing things if we think we aren’t doing them well enough. Perfectionism is just a big old excuse. It is the first thing that sets us up to fail. Allow yourself to follow the 80/20 rule. Do your best 80% of the time and that is good enough.
So, here’s the recap:
- Small steps that are realistic and doable
- Do the easiest thing first
- Announce your intentions out loud, share them with others to support you
- Be aware of the voice of your Saboteur and shut it down
- Create positive momentum by recognizing what you have accomplished so far and keep it going
- Let go of perfection paralysis and use the 80/20 rule
I can personally vouch for this method as I have seen so many positive changes in my own life come from using these tools. There’s no limit to what you can achieve, so start now!
Edie Ruge is a Health and Wellness Coach offering unique strategies in guiding people to achieve their wellness goals. She specializes in weight management, stress reduction, increased energy and overall improved health. Edie’s integrative and holistic approach helps people lead healthier, happier and more balanced lives.