It’s the time of year for New Years resolutions, the inevitable ‘I am not happy with my self/life/home.’ This mindset comes with the idea that if you can somehow get all these things worked out, then you’ll be happy. For many people I work with though that day doesn’t come, things don’t go as planned and many of us give up or fail at our resolutions at the end of January. Someone in my yoga class this week described this powerful drive and pressure to change as New Year-itus.
And the pressure is palpable ‘new year, new you’ is a common chant, sales on new kitchens, furniture and clothes create a heady mix, which is easy to buy into. So this got me thinking, how do we create long-term sustainable change in our lives?
Firstly, it seems vital that we focus down, we only have so much energy and time. For change to be sustainable we need to realistically be able to devote time, energy and resources to it or we will end up burning out. So what do you really want to change? What causes you distress and unhappiness?
Secondly we need to have realistic expectations about the change, losing weight will make you thinner and most likely healthier, but it may not make you happy. Food may have been a comfort in times of sadness or stress, a way of socialising and when you lose weight you may have to find other ways to deal with emotions and socialising. You can create the conditions for happiness, but you cannot force happiness to happen.
Thirdly we need support, Rome wasn’t built in a day and certainly not by one person. Having the support of family, friends, groups and counselling can give you the determination to work through the harder parts of making changes.
Even more importantly you need your own support and compassion. There will be points in your journey when you will fall down, eat the food you are trying to avoid, have an extra glass of wine or miss your appointment at the gym and you need to be understanding of yourself. Asking yourself what happened today? Why was it hard to hold your resolve?
Lasting changes take time, and are often a journey taken one step at a time. Be kind to yourself.