Making a significant, lasting change in behavior is not a simple process. It involves a substantial commitment of your time, effort and emotion. Below are some tips to make you successful.
- Be careful with absolutes. If your goal is to quit a serious addiction such as tobacco or alcohol an absolute is necessary. Your goal should be to never smoke or drink again. However, if your goal is to loose weight, set yourself up with a reasonable goal with incremental sub-goals. If you enjoy chocolate don’t expect that you will never taste chocolate again, it is better to accommodate a small portion in your restricted calorie intake and savor it.
- Be specific with your goal. Set a clearly defined goal, which identifies a specific behavior that you wish to change. Focus on changing that behavior with a plan that addresses a daily, weekly and monthly strategy.
- Set incremental benchmarks or sub-goals. It is difficult to stay focused on a long-term goal without some form of re-inforcement during the process. Measurable short-term objectives provide the reinforcement for continued motivation and focus on the intended behavioral change.
- Check your readiness for change. Ask yourself if you have the resources, support and knowledge to successfully make a lasting behavioral change. Weigh the pros and cons of changing a behavior and write them down for future reference. Create a baseline measurement of the behavior you wish to change. i.e. how many cigarettes you smoke per day, how many high calorie snacks you eat and when, or when do you loose your temper and under what circumstances.
- Formulate a plan for success. Prepare a plan of action with detailed steps on how you plan to change a behavior. Gather as much information as you can about ways to modify a behavior. Sometimes it is helpful to collect a list of motivating statements that can be referred to later.
- Reward your incremental successes. Reinforcement and support are extremely important in helping maintain positive steps toward change. Every time an incremental goal is reached reward yourself. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, maybe celebrate every ten pounds shed with a new pair or jeans, or a massage. Remember it is not a good idea to reward yourself with the item you are trying to avoid or behavior you are trying to modify. The reward should reinforce the effort you are making toward reaching your goal so you can feel motivated to continue.
- Take stock of how far you have come. Periodically review your motivations, resources and progress to refresh your commitment to your resolution. Maintaining a visual or written record is a great way to record your progress.
- Learn from your past failures. Identify the triggers that create the environment that might cause you to relapse to the undesirable behavior. Obviously try to avoid these circumstances. Learn from your previous attempts to change a behavior. Ask yourself what went wrong. Every failed attempt will teach you something new about yourself and the behavior, which can be applied, to the next attempt.
- Be gentle with yourself if you relapse. Needless to say, relapsing into bad habits is a very common occurrence. When this happens, try to determine what triggered the relapse and strategize on how you can avoid this in the future. Importantly, in most cases all is not lost. Pick up your motivation and start again on the desired path. Do not allow feelings of disappointment, failure and frustration to overwhelm you.
- Seek expert help if appropriate. Whether it is a certified personal trainer or registered dietitian for nutritional information, make sure they are qualified in their area of expertise. Many professional organizations have websites that can help you find professional help in your area.
Resolutions fail when you do not put enough time and thought into making them successful. Change is difficult and demands time and continue effort to accomplish.
Remember iTriage and iTriagehealth.com are always available for you to check your symptoms, research diseases, procedures, tests and treatments and to find the appropriate medical facilities near you. Good luck with your resolutions and have a very Happy New Year.