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7 tips on how to make lasting changes

14 Jan 16:00 by Vanessa Dolan

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Happy New Year! 

It’s that time of the year when we want to make new changes - a new year and a new you is always exciting. Did you know that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to see the results?

Creating new habits takes time and energy. A new behaviour won't become automatic overnight, but you may enjoy some of its benefits fairly quickly. So, keep encouraging yourself to go in the direction you'd like to go. Try the following seven tips to help you create long-lasting change.

1. Dream big. Ambitious goals are compelling. With perseverance, encouragement and support, you can do it. An ambitious goal often inspires others around you. Some will be happy to help in practical ways, such as by joining you or taking on tasks you normally handle in order to free up your time.

2. Break big dreams into small enough steps. Small steps move you forward to your ultimate goal. Look for short sustainable wins. Just getting to first base can build your confidence to tackle — and succeed at — more difficult tasks. Don't disdain easy choices. If you start every plan with "Check list," you're guaranteed to tick each box off quickly. So break bigger goals down into smaller line items and enjoy achieving the easy tasks first.

3. Understand why you shouldn't make a change. Until you understand why you're sticking to old habits or routines, it may be hard to gather enough energy and will to make a change. So when you're considering a change, take time to think it through. You boost your chance of success when the balance of pluses and minuses enough to make adopting a new behaviour more attractive than standing in place. Otherwise, you're working against your goal and are less likely to experience lasting success.

4. Commit yourself. Make yourself accountable through a written or verbal promise to people you don't want to let down. That will encourage you to get through the tough spots. I see many social media pages dedicated to sharing the journey of change. Or you can make a less public promise to your partner, boss, or friends. Want more support? Post your promise on Social Media, or seek out others with like-minded goals online.

5. Give yourself rewards. Don't wait unit the attainment of your goal once 100% completed. Encourage yourself to keep at it by pausing to acknowledge success as you tick off small and big steps en route to a goal. Blast your favourite song each time you reach a milestone. Get a pat on the back from your partner. Ask family and friends to cheer you on. Look for an online support group. Or download the "Attaboy" app to enjoy a stream of compliments whenever you need to hear it.

6. Learn from the past. Any time you fail to make a change, consider it a step toward your goal. Why? Because each sincere attempt represents a lesson learned. When you hit a challenge, take a moment to think about what did and didn't work. Maybe you took on too big a challenge? If so, scale back to a less ambitious challenge, or break the big one down into smaller steps. 

7. Give thanks for what you do. Forget perfection. If you compete to complete, you'll be a winner even if you wind up walking as much as you run. With anything — you'll benefit even when doing less than you'd like to do. Any activity getting your goal is always better than none. It's enough. And maybe tomorrow will be better.

I know you will succeed with these few easy steps. Good luck.