Welcome to 2020. A new year and new – or renewed – resolutions. Whether you’re determined to manage weight, reduce stress, strengthen relationships, or volunteer your services, the first step in choosing what to tackle is understanding your values and priorities. Visualize how the change would look for you.

Ask yourself: If I make this change . . .
What positive effects will I experience: (example, if you choose to focus on volunteer work, you are likely to create new friendships; if you volunteer as a family, you’ll strengthen family ties).
What resources or support do I need?
How will I feel emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?

Changing behavior is tricky: it takes time, patience, good planning, and the willingness to accept setbacks even as you move forward. It takes at least 30 days to establish a new habit and become comfortable with your new routine, time requirements and available resources. Plan for success and be realistic about outcomes by anticipating how you’ll handle challenges that pop up, whether its time constraints, external obligations, or lack of support from family and friends.

The following strategies can help you succeed.
Know Your Why. Why do you want to make this change? Motivation is an important predictor of behavior and, ultimately, success, so be honest about your why. How will success feel to you? Connecting emotion to your why strengthens your willingness to stick to the goal when things get challenging. I’ll feel less stress because I will have more space around the house if I clean out the rooms and closets. Write down your ‘why’ and post it somewhere visible.

Set Goals and Have a Plan. Anything you want to achieve isn’t about finding the time, it’s about making the time – and that choice is always in your power. If you’re unsure about forming goals and plan, ask your holistic health practitioner for assistance. Depending on what you are striving to change, you might set weekly or monthly goals.

Pull Together Resources. Sometimes the people we typically count are less than supportive of our goals, wondering how your commitment to change will affect them or your relationship. If you can’t find support in your immediate circle of influence, seek out a like-minded group, an accountability buddy, a life coach or counselor. Your health practitioner can assist with resources and make suggestions for keeping you accountable for your progress.

Celebrate Success! In your plan, note the markers at which you will celebrate success. Rewards need not be expensive, just meaningful for you. Keep in mind that some rewards might be a natural consequence of your lifestyle change: A smile from someone you have helped through volunteer work, donating clothes that no longer fit after weight loss, or having room for a new desk in a cleared out space.

Resources
Young, S. “Healthy Behavior Change in Practical Settings.” Perm J (2014, Fall) 18:4: 89-92. Accessed 10 Nov 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206177/
NIH.gov “Changing Your Habits for Better Health.” Accessed 10 Nov 2019: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health
APA.org “Making Lifestyle Changes that Last” Accessed 10 Nov 2019: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/lifestyle-changes.aspx
Harvard Healthbeat “7 ways to Jumpstart Healthy Change in Your Life.” Accessed 10 Nov 2019: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/7-ways-to-jumpstart-healthy-change-in-your-life
Beckman, S. Cooper Institute. “Tips to Support Healthy Behavior Change.” Posted 30 Jul 2015: Accessed 09 Nov 2019: https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2015/07/tips-to-support-healthy-behavior-change/
Resources from Health Psychology Course, University of Hartford.