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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Making Changes in the New Year

As the New Year approaches resolutions are made; and too often broken within the first weeks of January. Change is hard. Self-improvement can be a struggle. There are ways to improve the abilility to make and keep those New Year's resolutions.

Many people believe that change is a matter of willpower and simply if you want something enough you will make it happen. I believe most of us have experienced that wanting something is not enough to effect change. Noah Blumenthal, a noted Life Coach, wrote in his book: You’re Addicted to You: Why It’s So Hard to Change and What You Can Do about It, that willpower alone won’t get you to change. He proposes 3 main strategies to assist in successfully accomplishing personal change.

Raise awareness. Understand your current behaviors and appreciate the impact of the behavior on you and those around you. The first step toward change is to be conscious of the NEED to change. You must recognize an issue and feel the desire for difference. Envision what you want. Consider writing it down and describing in detail your goal.

Build support. Identify and draw strength from a network of people who help make your change efforts more effective. People around you can both positively and negatively impact change. Change of one person in a group usually impacts the entire group to some degree and how the “system” responds greatly impacts overall success. As an example, imagine an individual who has made a clear, motivated decision to eat in a healthier and balance manner. While clearly an individual choice, it is easy to imagine how the people around can assist or sabotage progress. If a spouse, family, friends and coworkers are supportive or even share the goal, there will be fewer invitations to share late night binges, fast food meals, or encouragement to “get off track”. Talking with others about your dreams and goals is helpful.

Take action. Practice new behaviors. Remind yourself to avoid old behaviors. Review your progress. Each day, take small steps toward the change you are wanting. Change can happen only if people don’t set their expectations too high or try to tackle too many changes at once. Changes should be kept small and simple. The commonly held belief is that it takes about a month of repeated action to start forming a new habit. This requires that you remember to do the new thing at the appropriate time. For most of us, it will mean you have to develop a system to cue you to add the new behavior to your daily routine. Not always easy in busy, full lives.

Accomplishing positive change presents great opportunities. When you move past your comfort zone you find adventure, excitement and satisfaction. Often, what we really want is hidden beneath what we’ve settled for.

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