January is already a week old, and so are your new year’s resolutions. Are you still doing great? Good for you. Is it getting a bit harder to persevere? These five tips will help you to keep up the spirit.
In fact, all change starts with this. If you love pies and cake, don’t ask yourself to cut out all pastries. There’s no need, and it will only frustrate you. The key to a healthy diet is moderation. So save the lemon meringue or pecan pie for special times – and in the meantime, go easy on the cookies, crisps and all the other snacks that are, oftentimes, not even all that good.
If you resolved to start exercising this year, while you’re not that much of a sports fanatic, please be true to yourself. Don’t expect yourself to go for a run everyday or to work your bum off at the gym, pick something you like. Why not start dancing, boxing, hulahooping? If you do something you enjoy, it’s much easier to persist.
In Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Better than Before. Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives’, the writer mentions all the evasions we make up if we don’t want to follow our plan. There are lots of them. Most of the time, we know we’re making excuses, and the more aware we are of that, the easier it gets to counter the evasion. For every excuse, we can think of many good reasons to go to the gym / meet a friend / prepare a healthy meal / whatever it is that you wanted to do in the first place.
It’s inherent to the whole concept of resolutions: starting from January 1, you’re changing – overnight. If you light a cigarette that day, or eat more than one cookie with your tea, all is lost. Right? No, it’s not. By thinking you have to be perfect from January 1 on, you’re already sabotaging the change you want so badly. Research shows that gradual change has a much bigger –and more sustainable- effect. Look at your resolutions as a plan that you want (not: have to) carry out, a plan that has its ups and downs. Just like everything else in life. You’ll see that, by persisting and forgiving yourself every time you go wrong, it will get easier.
Self criticism is all too human, but think about it: when was the last time a lecture (‘That’s it’ ‘Gosh, you’re weak’) ever motivated you? The opposite is much more effective. Praise yourself for the change you have initiated, and keep encouraging yourself, just like a good friend would. You’re doing great.
In this time of year, when literally everyone seems to be working on their resolutions, we sometimes tend to forget why we wanted all this. Suddenly, it seems like we’re taking part in a competition – but when did we sign up for that? Don’t get frustrated when your colleagues seem to be ‘ahead’ of you or if they seem to be more ‘persistent’ than you are. You’re not doing this for them, you’re not doing this to ‘win’, you’re simply doing this for you.
Text: Dorien Vrieling
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