January, a month filled with hope for what lies ahead. A time many of us commit to healthy change as we resolve to be happier and healthier in the new year.
But are we being unnecessarily tough on ourselves? After all its mid-winter. Do we wake up one morning close to the shortest day of the year often nursing a sore head, and imagine that we will be filled with more motivation, more willpower and more determination than we managed most of the year before?
Life happens, and maybe we should start with some self-care. The drive for our lives and ourselves to be constantly getting better can result in disappointment and a cycle of failure. We need the support in place to help us match our best efforts to life’s challenges.
As a positive psychologist and coach one of the biggest challenge my clients face is that human nature is hard-wired to want the benefits of change immediately. Nice idea, but the reality is that change takes commitment, patience and perseverance, yes you can absolutely have a happier more fulfilled life but it takes not only hard work, but a smart strategy as well.
The tendency is to fall into one of two traps. The first is wanting transformation to just happen with an improbable life-style leap where we take on too much positive commitment, too suddenly. We need a very strong mindset to keep going on an upward trajectory consistently throughout the year, especially if we’re unsupported.
The second is wanting to make a multitude of often competing unrelated changes immediately. Be more punctual, be more productive, sleep better, take up an evening class do more exercise, meditate more regularly, work smarter, save money. These sorts of changes need planning and support in place to help you organise your priorities and make the changes stick beyond the first few months of the year.
When it comes to helping clients develop enduring change I coach vision allied with the setting of realistic goals using the following 3 steps
Step – 1
Reflect deeply, and imagine a 360degree vision of the life changes you’d like to create. Not only the practical but for a few moments immerse in to the emotions that you’ll feel when they’re in place, and the positive impact they will have on yourself and your loved ones.
Write these down for when the inevitable temptations to slide hove in to view and you need inspiration. Also remember to mentally re-visit your vision for self-validation when each positive part of your plan falls in to place.
Step – 2
Whether there is one goal you want to focus on or a variety of changes, break them down, and break them down again, until they’re easily manageable and you begin to see how with a little bit of effort they will fit quite naturally in to your existing lifestyle.
Not all at once. Plan for a few new changes every 4-6 weeks give them time to bed down before adding a few more every month. Recognise that with proper planning your new habits will begin to fit together in surprising ways.
You’ll know when things are working when you begin to have more energy rather than less. If you’re constantly feeling tired trying to fit everything in, then think carefully about your priorities and the season’s natural cycles. See clearly what can be introduced at different points of the year quite naturally.
That’s it! When we start on a journey of change we need a vision of where we are heading and what it will feels like once we arrive. We need to be flexible in our approach so that we don’t stop off at the first resting place or give up and walk back to where we started. And we need to be kind to ourselves and allow our vision to change and develop as we ourselves grow and develop throughout the year.
I’m Charlotte Wiseman of Step-Inside Coaching and I know that everyone has the opportunity to Thrive. I empower individuals and groups to discover their own strength to enable them to live the life they want with energy and ease.
Don’t miss this opportunity to work with me in a supportive group setting and discover how to make those new year changes stick around. I hope to see you there.