At my gym, the New Year's resolutions people have disappeared. On January 1, many decide to shed pounds, adopt a workout routine, and change the way they've been doing things on the fitness front. By March, they're no longer at my gym; possibly back to sitting on the couch and eating potato chips from the bag.
I don't mean to sound callous. I commend anyone who makes a lifestyle change, even if it's short term. In 2009, I did it. I joined a gym and shed more than 50 pounds. In addition, I also embraced new alternatives that have kept me from washing out, more than two years later.
So what are the differences between resolutions and changes that will take root? Why do some people succeed in lasting change, while others give up?
What Makes Change Stick?
- Having a plan was what helped me.
- Staying motivated was another key variable in the equation. Why change? Perhaps you want to lose weight, work out, or maybe, just be more positive. But, what's in it for you?
- Tackling one issue at a time kept me focused. Often, people decide to make several major changes at once. This is a sure strategy for failure. What one item is most important to you right now that requires change?
- Reflect. Taking time to stop and consider my location on life's highway is important. Asking the right questions helps. A tool and resource that I have been recommending is 344 Questions: The Creative Person's Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment, by Stefan G. Bucher.
- Start doing something. As Seth Godin says, "Go. Make Something Happen." Start taking steps towards a healthier you. Do you want to lose weight, quit smoking, or join a gym? Sounds easy, but often, the biggest hurdle is inertia.
Good Habits Lead to Success
Maybe you've always wanted to write, but can't seem to find the time. Can you eliminate an hour of nightly television watching? That can become your time to write, after the kids are in bed.
I made a decision back in 2000 that I'd write an hour each day before work. By 2005, after taking the incremental steps of developing my craft, I was on hand when my first book, When Towns Had Teams, rolled off the presses. A year later, I had won an award from Independent Publisher, a national trade organization that champions independent publishing.
I share this story because I truly believe that whatever it is that you want to achieve, you can, if you believe and take tangible steps to make that belief happen. Merely believing didn't make my book happen, but believing I could do it was an important initial step.
What is it in your life that you know you need to do? A new look, a new job, maybe going back to school and finishing that degree?
Take That First Step
Let me end by saying that whatever change you need to make, let this be the year that you begin taking steps toward it.
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Jim Baumer is the Director of Business Services for the Central/Western Maine Workforce Investment Board, a nonprofit where he's worked for the past five years. In addition, he's also an entrepreneur, a writer, as well as an independent publisher with two books in print and new ones on the way. Jim posts additional pieces at his blog.