Making changes in your life takes repeated effort

New Year, New You… Or Not?

How are you getting on with your new year’s resolution?

Apparently a lot of people make a new year resolution but most of them give up on the 2nd or 3rd of January. It’s sad thinking about all those people who want to make changes in their life, or say they want to, but don’t suceed.

I hope you haven’t already experienced this disappointment<!–more–> yourself in 2010, but most of all I hope that, if you have, you’re not beating yourself up about it. All the research seems to indicate that, when it comes to new year’s resolutions, this type of failure is perfectly normal so it’s certainly nothing be ashamed of.

Unfortunately, even the very concept of making a new year’s resolution seems to be an exercise in setting yourself up for failure.

3 thoughts about making change

At the end of 2009 I wrote an article for Lifehack called 7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It. If you haven’t read it yet and you’re interested in changing your habits or making new habits then do check it out.

The main points I want to get across about new year’s resolutions are:

1. The new year is probably not the best time to start new habits or change old ones.

2. If you do make a new year’s resolution you probably won’t be able to stick to it.

3. Just because you slip up doesn’t mean you have to give up entirely ~ the key to succeeding at making change is to persevere and keep trying. For proof of this read about the concept of ‘grit’ in 10 Ways To Get the Life You Want.

Change doesn’t happen overnight

There’s no way you can go to bed one night, be it December 31st or not, and wake up to a new you the next day.

Making changes in your life takes repeated effort over a sustained period of time.

When it comes down to it the three key questions you should ask yourself before making changes to your habits are:

1. Do you really want to change?

2. Do you believe the changes you want to make are possible and realistic?

3. Are you ready to put in the necessary work to make the changes happen and make them last?

Change won’t happen by magic

If you answered yes to those three questions then keep on striving to make the changes you want.

Do you remember that old trick where a magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat? Take a moment to consider how much practice the magician put into it before he or she managed to pull off the trick successfully.

If you want to change your habits or even change your life that will take practice too.

Brace yourself for blips along the way and expect that your decision to make life changes will be the beginning of a journey where you make two steps forward and one step back.

The important thing is to take the first step and keep going no matter what.

Oh, and if you’re one of the people who made a new year’s resolution and have been keeping it well done. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep up the good work!

Did you make a new year’s resolution? Are you still on track with it?

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Photo credit: Katie Cowden
Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Doolin January 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I don’t do well with resolutions.

I am however, reinstalling a habit that didn’t quite take hold: I’m spending my first hour each morning writing. This is before reading email, RSS, anything. It’s the first thing I do.

It worked during the Fall, then I lapsed. Back after it now, and I have a couple of friends working with me on it.

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Annabel Candy January 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Dave – It sounds as if you’re doing a great job to me ~ trying again to set up a habit that you know will benefit you and enlisting like-minded friends to support each other. I should definitely be joining you on that one. Email sucks up to much of my time but I excuse myself for it as I quite like working in a fragmented way. Keep up the good work!

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Tomas Stonkus January 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

The secret to change is knowing why you want to make the change.

Many people go on to making changes without exploring what motivates them first. If you know yourself and know what you REALLY want in life then everything else is easy.

There are many more much deeper issues as to why people cannot keep their resolutions: peer pressure, wrong environment, not spending time with oneself alone, just going through the motions and so on.

Yet, the real reason is that most people have to clue what really drives and what they want to do.

Best,
Tomas

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Gordie January 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I made most of my changes before the New year to get some momentum going so when 2010 swung around I was well on my way. I’m just concentrating on a few main areas and looking at this year as a foundation year of continued building on my blog and self. I have a big move coming up in the middle of the year, so I’m going to have to be prepared for the changes that will bring.

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Connie January 10, 2010 at 9:39 am

My resolution was to stop worrying about money so much and just SPEND it. It’s working so far :-) Maybe the secret to resolutions is to make them something enjoyable and/or not for perceived moral benefit. I love that photo – is that you with blonde hair???

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Annabel Candy January 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

Tomas – Great thoughts. Yes you need to be internally motivated to follow up on your plans. Fotr example, resolving to lose weight won’t work if you don’t really believe you need to lose weight. Peer pressure is a big factor too. Hopefully we can find people who will help and support us in our goals. I’m hoping to provide that here too:)

Gordie – Good on you for getting a head start. Keep up the good work, it’s going to be an exciting and action-packed year.

Connie – Brillliant that you’ve decided to worry less and I hope you have lots of money to spend on the stuff you really need. No, the photo’s not me – I would like to have blonde curly hair for a day or two though…

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Jared-Brandentity January 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I think that the best time to change is when the change first enters your mind. Due to the fact that many people did not ACT upon the changes prior to the NEW YEAR, I think it is important to learn this lesson going forward. When there is time between the goal creation and the execution, we often lose impulse which results in doing the same thing that you have always done, while wishing for a different result. I actually wrote about this concept and would like to share it with your audience…GREAT POST ANNABEL!

http://www.jaredyellin.com/2009/12/the-new-year-starts-right-now/

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Robin Dickinson January 11, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Hi Annabel,

What about when a change suddenly springs up in you out of thin air – like that pesky rabbit?

I woke up one morning, just before Christmas (so I appreciate that this comment edges ever so slightly out of your time frame) with the overwhelming desire to want to cook. Cook, cook, cook. Anything and everything.

I’ve shifted from ZERO interest to unabashed passion, literally over night. I’ve never thought about wanting to cook. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Now I search out recipes from magazines, books and the library. I pore over ingredients at the local Mall. I badger my mother for tricks and tips. I can’t wait to get my hands on a food processor – and have developed a pastry fetish.

Go figure – I can’t. And the family and friends are loving it. Moroccan tagines; Greek casseroles; Tiramisu; Home-baked pies etc.

It’s been the most wonderful ‘overnight’ Christmas gift.

Bon appétit,

Robin :)

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Connie January 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Not out of control spending – just less obsessive worry about what will happen if I buy things that I don’t necessarily need but will make me happy.
I think you would be cute as a platinum blonde :-)

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chinese visa service January 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

In china, the valentine’s day is just the chinese new year. It’s lucky for the youth. People are preparing for celebrate the incoming new year even now.

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Annabel Candy January 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Chinese – Wow, so you an extra 6 weeks to sort out your resolutions and plan your year. I hope you learn from our mistakes and that I’ll be able to join a Chinese new year celebration here in Australia!

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chinese visa service January 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

Yeah. In the New Year’s Eve, we usually watch Spring Festival Gala Evening on CCTV-1 or CCTV-4. It has been one of our traditional celebration events.

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