We are just finishing up the first week in January. And if you are like a lot of people, getting back into the swing of daily life is harder than you anticipated. After all, the holidays are a great time for celebrating life and thinking about things you would like to improve. Everyone talks about making the next one a great year, and the resolutions fly all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It all sounds wonderful and doable–and then you go back to work. After only four or five days, the holiday glow is long gone and the same feelings of frustration and mental exhaustion set back in. Your resolutions for the year are just a memory and that adds extra fire to your frustration. So what can you do to get back on track? Is there really a way to make positive changes in a new year and make them stick? The good news is yes, you can. And here is a five step guide to help you do just that.
Accept Your Frustration–Frustration is just an emotion. And like any emotion, it has the power to color how we see situations along with our reactions to those situations. When you can recognize an emotion–any emotion–for what it is, you give yourself the power to react or not react to it. You give yourself the power to choose how you deal with a problem or challenge. Accept your frustration, acknowledge it, and move on. Don’t internalize it or carry it home with you. Doing so will only deepen your sense of frustration, and make it more difficult to take any positive action to change the situation.
Evaluate Your Goals–Sometimes we make too many resolutions when ringing in the new year. We have more energy because we are on vacation, so it is natural to think we can do a lot more than we normally could. But here’s the thing–we all have a finite amount of time and energy. Thinking that we can make sweeping changes in our lives on all fronts is simply setting us up for failure. If you don’t feel you are making progress on any of your goals, step back and take a look at how many you have set. Prioritize them, and then choose a maximum of three to work on for the next three months. Write the others down, put them in a drawer, close it, and check that list next quarter after reviewing the progress on your current goals.
Balance Your Goals–When making resolutions and goals, most people tend to focus on one area of their lives. And that area is usually work. However, if you focus on only one area, like work or health, you are neglecting other areas that also deserve development. And while you might feel great about your career, you will start to feel something is off somewhere else. You will start to lose that balance everyone talks about, which will only add to your frustration. When you are prioritizing your goals, try to make each one for different area in your life. This will help keep you more centered and give you a bigger sense of overall satisfaction.
Focus on the Positive–Words have power. How we talk to ourselves affects how we act. When you are setting up your goals, frame them in a positive way. Saying you want to lose weight implies there is something wrong with your current state. You are focusing on what you see as a negative aspect of yourself, and that immediately throws mental roadblocks into your path to success. Focus instead on getting healthy, or moving more, or eating cleaner. The result will be the same, but focusing on the positive aspects of yourself makes it easier to move forward.
Make Your Goals Your Own–We often try to change something about ourselves to please someone else, or because we think we “should” be or do something in a certain way. And while friends, relatives, and spouses, may have good ideas and your best interests at heart, using someone else’s values as a catalyst for change is a recipe for disaster. When you plan goals, be certain the result is something that resonates for you–not for someone else. If you find you have set a goal because someone else thinks it would be good for you, drop it and find one that makes sense to you. Otherwise you will be wasting your time and energy to achieve something you don’t really want–and we all know how that turns out.
If you find yourself slipping back into old patterns and habits after the new year, these tips can help you clarify your goals and get back on track. The new year is still a great time to make positive changes in your life, and these guidelines can help you make certain you are using your time and energy to reach the right goals for you–without frustration or burnout.