It is officially the first day of spring, and almost a quarter of 2015 has already flown by! Can you believe it? I know I can’t – three months into the New Year already? How on earth did that happen?
And where, oh where, have my New Year’s resolutions flown off to? I can tell you one thing, they didn’t stick around very long. Am I the only one feeling like I’m letting myself down, just a little bit, going back to my old habits so quickly after swearing to make a change? I’m not saying many things needed changing or that not keeping up with my resolutions means I’m no longer leading a healthy life…but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying to form new habits that I’m pretty sure would have left me just a little happier overall.
I’m a big fan of symbolism, so for the first day of Spring, I’ve decided to dust off my resolutions and bring them out of the box I shoved them in early February. For anyone who feels like they want to give new habits a try, here’s my 5-step guide to getting back on track:
N° 1: REFUSE TO FEEL GUILTY
Life gets a little bit crazy sometimes, we all have so much to do and finding the right balance is HARD, especially when you’re trying to do all sorts of new things at once. Once something becomes a habit, it’s easier to do, but for the first few weeks, it does take that little extra time and effort, and not being able to keep up with it is ok.
So, firstly, if you’re going to give your resolutions another go, refuse to feel guilty about not getting it right the first time. It happens, and it’s not a big deal. Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, take a deep breath – and take the plunge.
N°2: MAKE A PLAN
Making any type of plan takes a little bit of thought: if you’re anything like me, you need to sit down, with a cup of tea, a blank piece of paper and a pen, and just jot down a few things before you can actually implement them in any real way.
So, sit down, write down the things you want to change, why and how you intend to make them change.
Here’s an example from my list: the first thing I want to do is to read more. I used to read loads when I was younger – at one point I would literally read one book a day – and these past few years, I’ve been much more involved in watching movies or series than I have been in reading. I want to read more because I feel it will bring me more peace and balance, and also because I miss reading in general, and the culture it brought me. I intend to make reading a habit by trying to read one book a month, and reading for 20-30 minutes before bed every night.
N°3: BE AMBITIOUS, BUT REALISTIC
One of the main mistakes I make whenever I try to change things in my life is that I always try to change everything at once. And I can tell you, this never works out well. At first, everything is fine, but little by little, it all falls apart: as soon as one goal doesn’t pan out and you give up on it, it’s very difficult to keep your motivation going for the others.
The key is to be ambitious – give yourself a real goal – but don’t try to do it all at once. Make sure your goals are achievable, and don’t try to balance 10 life changes at the same time. If you want, for example, to exercise more and eat more healthily, don’t try to go to the gym every single day for an hour and cut out all your favourite “unhealthy” treats at once: instead, try to exercise three times a week and give yourself one food related goal per week: less sugar in your tea, smaller portions, more vegetables, etc.
N°4: STAY ORGANISED
Reaching a goal or forming a new habit is hard if you don’t allow time for it in your day-to-day schedule. In fact, as we all know, I’m sure, even keeping up with our normal routine can be difficult at times. This is something you need to think about after you’ve decided what goals to strive for: give yourself the time and the energy to accomplish your goals by making time for them every day.
If you’re the kind of person who plans out your day in writing, write it down somewhere: starting today, you’re going to give yourself some time, each day or each week, to strive towards your goal. It doesn’t necessarily need to be much time: start small and build your way up! 5 minutes of daily exercise, meditation or, hey, reading, can turn into an hour over time.
And last, but not least:
N°5: BE MINDFUL
Remind yourself of what you have achieved at the end of each day: focus on the positive, be aware of the changes you are making and the goals you are striving towards.
Although I think projecting yourself into the future can be a very positive tool for change, it is also important to take on each day as it comes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t achieve your goals without a little bit of patience and hard work, so take it slowly. Don’t let the potential difficulties you may face along the way discourage you from trying to accomplish your goals or overcome those obstacles.
Header photo credit goes to Tom Bream, find his pictures here.