Research shows that most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by the third week of January. Here are a couple of tips that might help you beat the odds and reach your goal.
Refocus – When the urge/craving comes on for that chocolate éclair, glass of wine, or fabulous new boots, refocusing your thoughts can go a long way in helping you slow down those urges. How does this work? Think of it as procrastination for a good cause. Most of us can find a gazillion other things to focus on instead of, say, cleaning the bathroom or doing our taxes. Refocus is simply shifting your thoughts to something else – read a book, work out, or even clean the bathroom or do your taxes early. By the time you are through with this new chore you will find your craving has passed.
Revalue – Instead of thinking about how good that cigarette will feel, think about it blackening your lungs. When you stop rationalizing about how you “ deserve this” and focus rather on how you “deserve” to be healthy, you can begin to replace old toxic habits with healthier ones. While the chocolate donut may look delicious, remember your goal to eat healthy and how doing so will increase your life span and all the things you will be able to do. Visualize the benefits of passing on the donut rather than how good it tastes. Keep your focus on the big picture and the momentary craving will pass.
Rename deprivation – Many of us are anxious when we think of the word Deprivation as it conjures up something being taken away from us. However, Discipline is when we choose not to take that cigarette or buy those expensive boots or sneak a glass of wine. Deprivation can feel as if we are giving up control, whereas Discipline is empowering. It is a testimony to our own strength.
Relabel-Those great boots aren’t going to make your life better, they are going to kick butt with your new budget. That drink will wreak havoc with your life. By relabeling these “pleasures” as the problems they really are, you will find a perspective to support your new self-discipline rather than sabotage it. Instead of thinking of these behaviors as “making you happy”, relabel them for what they really are – behaviors that wreck your self-esteem, your relationships and your life.
Now, consider the difference between pleasure and happiness. That cigarette, box of Oreos, or expensive dress will bring you pleasure in the moment; but the pleasure quickly fades and leaves in its wake, a hacking cough, a few more pounds, a few less dollars and lots of self-disappointment. Pleasures quickly fade. Happiness is partially the result of living a mindful life, practicing discipline and making healthy choices. Unlike pleasure that seduces you with a quick fix, happiness takes time and patience.
Lastly, if you have already seen those resolutions slipping away, grab onto them quickly! Just because you slipped and had a cigarette doesn’t mean you have to wait until the pack is empty before trying again. If you abandoned your new healthy eating plan, you don’t need to wait for a new week to begin again. If you got caught up spending more than you should, stop now! You don’t need to wait until the next billing period to reel in your spending. Same with alcohol, if you had a glass of wine, you don’t need to wait until the bottle is empty (or the case) to quit again. Do it now. Every day you delay, you reinforce the bad habits. And if you want to feel better about yourself (and who doesn’t?) then what are you waiting for? Breaking bad habits is a process and one that is worth the work.
Sometimes habits get out of control. If you find you are unable to stop smoking, eating, drinking or spending on your own, then seek a qualified professional to help you make those changes. You are worth it!
Reprinted by permission from Donna Ferber from her January 18, 2014,Breaking Bad Habits: If Your Resolutions Are Slipping Away.
Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a licensed psychotherapist in Connecticut. She is the author of From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce. The book has provided support to thousands of women and won an Honorable Mention Award by the Independent Publishers Association. Presently she is working on a third book, The Unconceivable Choice: Why Women Choose not to have Children. To read more about the author and her work, please visit www.donnaferber.com
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Guest Contributor Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC
Donna F. Ferber, is a psychotherapist in private practice for 28 years. She is a licensed professional counselor, a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor and an educator. Donna works with individuals and in groups. Her office is in Farmington, Connecticut.