Here are four simple strategies that are guaranteed to work . . .
- Enter into a “comfort zone” before you jump into big changes. This is a great piece of advice that I got some years back from Dr. William J. Knauss, author of the classic book Do It Now: How to Stop Procrastinating. If you are going to start a new program of exercise, for example, go to a gym once or twice – without actually exercising. Just walk in, get changed into the exercise clothes you will use, then change back into your street clothes and leave. This helps you get into the right frame of mind to start making changes. Incidentally, online courses let you do just this if you have educational plans for the coming year. You can log in, view a lesson, and start making your changes in a comfortable place.
- Don’t get caught up in numerical goals, which can quickly kill your plans. You know the deal here. You want to lose weight, so you say “I will lose 25 pounds this year.” It’s a lot more effective to substitute a positive goal like, “I will get a cookbook that’s full of interesting recipes for healthy foods and prepare dinners from it on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.” Positive goals, will get you to your goal a lot faster.
- Find a way to get started soon, not in the distant future. With online classes, for example, you don’t have to wait until next September to start going to college. You can sign up, log on, and get going right now. As you’ve probably noticed, it’s easy to forget about something that you’re supposed to do in six months. Those six months can become nine months, or 12 – and you never quite get around to starting.
- Reward yourself for the small stuff. Let’s say that you bought a cookbook with healthy recipes, but last week you only prepared one of those meals on Monday, then you blew off your new routine on Wednesday and Friday. You could view that as a failure, or you could view it as progress. (After all, you did follow your plan, right?) Similarly, if you only exercised once last week instead of three times, you did a good thing, right? And if you only looked at some educational options online without signing up for anything, you still made progress. The point is to feel good just to be moving forward, even in small ways. With that kind of outlook, you can actually enjoy moving toward your goals, because you won’t be beating yourself up. And in the end, you’ll establish positive experiences and routines that will make your goals a reality.
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