Have you ever wondered why do people look forward to their New Year’s resolutions? It’s kinda the same as the Monday diet; we internally feel that the New Year or the first day of the week, gives us another chance of a new beginning. Don’t you often find yourselves eating a lot in the weekend but feel hopeful to the thought of being on a diet ‘from Monday’?

Now, how many of you have succeeded in starting and/or going through with that diet? How many of those New Year resolutions have really gone as planned? The majority of women’s resolutions are health related, and they are yet to be completed. The reason behind such commonly failed commitments is one and one only –  they are simply NOT realistic! If we swap wishes for  unreasonable outcomes to plausible everyday goals, we WILL get the result we want and more.

Happy young woman on a green meadow riding a bicycleSo, your last year’s goal was to lose 12 kilos in weight within the next few months. Or maybe you wanted to quit smoking. Perhaps you and your husband promised to argue less after the New Year or you planned to save money for that new car you liked. You really believed in those changes and you felt very determined to see them through.

Somewhere around the mid of the year, though, you realized that your plan was just not working out as initially planned and you felt disappointed. You, then, lowered your expectations and changed your first resolution from 12 kilos to just 5. Or maybe you decided that the money needed to buy that dream car could not be possibly raised in just one year and so you set the goal to two years. However, you are still not happy; what is the point in waiting for so long to get the satisfaction you wanted? Such trivial pursuits earned in such a long time, take the anticipation and your excitement out of the equation.

You need to set a goal, its results you can see every day! Shall we try to change our behavior instead? According to Robert L. Leahy, clinical professor of psychology, we should follow this three-step approach to realistic resolutions (PsychologyToday):

1. Commit to one behavior every day.

2. Keep track of what you do and what you don’t do.

3. Give yourself credit for every step forward—no matter how small it may seem.

Let’s see how the first step works. Compile a list of a few types of behavior that you consider as positive. It could be anything from walking, eating healthy, and jogging to doing something nice for your partner or a neighbor and spending some quality time with your children. Committing to one behavior every day, automatically becomes doable and there is no need for you to wait a year for an outcome.

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The next step, keeping track of what you do and don’t do, involves the very powerful technique of self-monitoring. By keeping notes of your successes and failures, your efforts and hard work you will learn what triggers your positive and negative behaviors. You will get pleasure from seeing what you did the previous day and you will learn how to avoid situations that de-motivate you.  Keeping track of the small everyday behaviors and feelings or emotions associated with them, will offer you a strong insight towards the path of self discovery.

The final step is often overlooked and undervalued. We rarely give credit to ourselves for something we achieved no matter how small or big. We either believe we don’t deserve it or we simply forget to do it. ‘Get used to being your own cheerleader’. Every small step towards a positive change is a step closer to achieving your goal. You deserve to recognize those hard efforts and give yourself reinforcement and encouragement. Twenty minutes of walking is better than no walking at all! Remember that ‘no matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch!’

You don’t have to wait for Monday or the New Year in order to make plans for a change; you can start now! Set yourself small realistic goals without having to wait for long term impossible outcomes which are destined to fail. Try it – you will see that plausible daily changes will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself, motivate and empower you.
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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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