Those of you who know me, know that I am not a fan of resolutions. Not only do people usually go over the top, like I am going to stop drinking, eat clean, drink 100 ounces of water per day, exercise five times per week, and stop swearing, but people usually do not take steps to actually hold themselves accountable and thus fail to be successful, which then contributes to negative thinking, which drives other negative behaviors. So why in the world am I talking about resolutions? And why in July?
I used to have a really great habit of making decisions about changes that I wanted to make, tomorrow. Or Monday. You know how it goes, I am going to eat healthy this week, and then on Tuesday I eat Taco Bell, and then I say, well, I guess this week is shot, I will try again on Monday! This is how resolutions work, but not how change really works. Change does not happen tomorrow, change happens today, even if it has to happen only in your head.
Change starts with a true mind shift. It is not about hoping that you can do something, or even planning on something. It is knowing that you can do it. No, you cannot choose to run a marathon tomorrow and then go do it. That would be amazing, but that is not how the human body works. However, you can choose to run a marathon, and start to run today. If you wait until you are ready to run 26 miles, you will realize quickly that you cannot think through the work, the work has to happen to get there.
First you make the shift in your mind that you are capable, and then you have to take concrete steps to actually meet the goal. If you make the decision that you can make a change, then you have to do something about it, and quickly. Otherwise, you lose motivation, and you start to think, well of course I CAN change, I am just going to wait until tomorrow to do it. So, what are concrete steps? If your goal is to eat healthy, start by cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator and donate any food that you do not want to eat. Research recipes that sound interesting to you, and start making lists of things that you need to get. It is actually really important that you do not just try to stop doing something, it has to be a stop and start. So, I am not just going to throw away all of my cookies, I am going to stop buying cookies and start buying fruit. I am not going to just stop drinking alcohol, I am going to stop buying alcohol, and consider drinking flavored water. I am not going to just stop sleeping in, I am going to wake up early and go for a walk.
Then, and this part is one of the hardest parts, you have to find someone in your life who can actually hold you accountable. This is not your sweet friend who is always sweet and nice. Those people are GREAT, and we need them. This is your friend who will call you out when they see you having your third glass of wine for the night when you are doing “sober July,” or will ask why they did not get the 5:00am text from you that you were on your way to the gym, or even better, wondering why you were not at the park that morning to meet them for a walk. It is hard, because if we are not actually committed to the change, then we certainly do not want anyone else to be holding up a mirror and reminding us of what we are not doing successfully.