Raise the subject of new year’s resolutions in January, and you’re likely to get some mixed reactions – from guilty confessions along the lines of falling by the wayside or off the wagon, to those who find the prospect too daunting to even bother anymore. So how can we tackle making changes effectively, new year or not? Fortunately, there are a few ways we can make that first step off the starting block a little easier.
First of all, there’s the bite size approach, where the elements of a task are broken down into manageable chunks. Let’s take the example of writing a book: once you’ve nailed the subject (or a vague narrative, if you’re writing fiction), how are you going to fill those empty pages? A sensible approach would be to break it down into chapters, then work out how many words a day you can realistically get down – they don’t have to be perfect, as you can take care of the editing and refining later. Of course you need to take your other commitments into account, and possibly sacrifice something else – such as time in front of the TV – to fit it in. But even if your goal is only a few hundred words a day to begin with, once you’ve made a start, you’re off!
Which leads me onto the next crucial element: making something into a habit. Research shows that we are far more likely to succeed at something once we incorporate it into our daily routine – basically sidestepping our brain’s tendency to question it. Even if you can only find a small gap in the day to begin with, the important thing is keeping it regular. This has the added bonus of gradually making the process easier, and helping it become a more natural part of your life.
And to enhance that natural process, we can use a little extra cleverness. If you’re a morning person, it makes sense to make the most of your early bird tendencies and set the alarm half an hour early – rather than try and incorporate your new habit later in the day when you may be more tired. And if you really want to give yourself an extra push, take advantage of moments in the day when you can take time out to visualise yourself going through elements of your task – and succeeding. Your brain will respond accordingly!
Finally, the best bit – reward yourself. Track your progress, set yourself achievable milestones along the way, and be sure to celebrate once they’re achieved – perhaps with friends or family who are supporting you. For many, sharing their goal is a magic ingredient of motivation; but if you’re flying solo, then give yourself an extra treat for your strength and determination. Above all, cut yourself some slack and don’t abandon everything if you hit a setback – pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep your eyes on the prize.
A qualified hypnotherapist can help you with all the above stages if you need a little extra support on your journey. Good luck!
(Published on The Hypnotherapy Directory, 3 January 2018)