O.K., time to take stock. As for New Year’s resolutions, if you’ve already given up on your resolutions you’re among the greater 64% who have too. How about your diabetes resolutions? Did you make any? If so, you may well have given up on those too, or nearly. Change is hard!
I don’t make resolutions of any sort because if I’m really committed to doing something, I don’t have to make a declaration about it, and if I’m not committed it won’t get done whether I say it will or not. So what gets in the way? The experts say stress, mood swings and boredom are largely what dash our resolutions into the snow or the sand depending on your geographic clime, weeks after we make them and throw us off our well intentioned paths. Sounds about right.
Resolutions typically require changing your behavior – doing things differently on a steady basis. This means forming new habits. Did you know it takes at least 3 to 4 weeks to form a new habit? And, it’s not a straight road to success, you’ll stumble on your way. Whether you get back up and continue toward your goal depends on you – your commitment, how important the goal is to you and how compelling your motivation is. So each resolution is deeply personal and each resolutioner has his or her very individual level of commitment and impediments. But here are two rules of thumb that apply across the board. 1) Don’t put excess pressure on yourself when forming a new habit to do it quickly or do it perfectly. These expectations will defeat you before you barely begin. 2) Appreciate any and every step you take in the right direction. If you see success as moving in the right direction rather than goal completion, you’ll gain new steam from your improvement alone.
Psychologists also talk about a “change muscle.” Figuratively, it’s a place in your body that has captured a memory of you having successfully made a change before. Connecting with this place and drawing upon this memory and energy can help you; your remembrance of change and success can inspire you to move forward with more conviction when things get tough.
Also, a support team is helpful when you’re trying to make a change. Whether it’s your spouse, a friend, neighbor or community resources, reach out, it’s easier if you’re not going it alone. Sometimes you just need a cheerleading squad, especially when your mind, as punishment for self-assessed failure, has placed you in front of your own personal firing squad.
Thinking about where I draw support from in addition to my family and friends, I remembered a poem I read long ago. It talks about a higher spirit always being there to help us. It gives me comfort. You will probably remember having read it before too:
Footprints in the Sand Copyright © 1984 Mary Stevenson
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints,
my child, is when I carried you.”
Even if you’ve given up your resolutions, nothing says you can’t start again right now. There’s no need to wait another 330 days.
Try telling yourself you’re going to “practice” your change this year. It will take the pressure off and chances are it will actually become real when you’re not even looking.