We can be imperfect and it won’t scar our children. Really! (But they reserve the right to hold it against us at a later date!)
“Confidence that comes from never having been burned is different from confidence that comes from having been in situations where it all went wrong.” —South African adventurer Boyd Varty
We all understand that when we first attempt to drive a car or ride a bike, we’ll make mistakes. Behavior change is no different; it’s a process of slipping, learning from the mistake, and trying again.” ― John C. Norcross, Changeology
Ah, the beginning of February.
If you made a New Year’s Resolution a month ago, and you’ve kept it so far, take a victory lap. The other (probably half) of you? Don’t worry about it if you are faltering. Worry and self-criticism don’t work. Don’t stress, but also…don’t just sit there.
This may be blazingly obvious, but in order to do better tomorrow, you’ll need to know what causes your trip-ups. What obstacle have you failed to see or plan for in the last week or so? How does your resolution need tweaking? Did you take on too much too soon? Figure it out, and make a specific plan for what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation again.
When I was first trying to squeeze meditation into my morning routine, I felt like I was failing more mornings than I was succeeding. Every day brought a new tweak to the routine. For example, at first I thought that I could get away with seven hours of sleep at night. But after three or four mornings of pushing the snooze button I realized I was too tired and had to turn the lights out earlier. Then I thought that I could read before bed on my iPad; that was a no-go, too, as the light from the screen kept me from falling asleep quickly.
For several days in a row, I didn’t foresee minor obstacles that proved challenging, like it being too cold in the house for me to not leap straight from my warm bed to my hot shower. But after I’d encountered each obstacle once, I could make a plan for what to do the next time. It can take many months to settle into something as large as a new morning routine.
So don’t worry about it if you are faltering — but don’t give up, either! Figure out how you need to tweak your habit to eliminate obstacles, and carry on!
Want more advice for establishing (and keeping) a new habit? Sign up for my FREE 90 day — text, email, and Facebook-based — coaching program to help you make and keep resolutions that stick.
Photo by Tim Ellis
Don’t know what your true passion is? Here’s a reason why that is good.
Adversity causes some people to break; others to break records. — William A. Ward
Never say never, because limits, just like fears, are just an illusion.” — Michael Jordan
If you’re working through your New Year’s resolutions, you’ve probably faced your fair share of temptations. When temptation is right in front of you, it’s hard to turn down. But when we tell ourselves “no,” we often increase the urgency of a temptation by making it forbidden fruit.
Success will depend on your ability to plan a little here. What types of things related to your resolution do you tend to make forbidden fruit? Rather than deny, try to postpone. Instead of telling yourself that you can’t have that cookie or you can’t watch TV, tell yourself you’ll have the cookie in a few hours if you are still interested, or you’ll record the show and watch it after you’ve gone for a walk. And then go distract yourself!
One of my temptations is the snooze button. Rather than tell myself, I can never, ever, ever hit the snooze button, I try to plan for one cheat day per week. Another approach will be to plan a power nap on a day when I know I need some catch up rest.
Think about your challenges and sticking points. Is your challenge or sticking point when you’re tired? Do you need to plan around when you get home at the end of the day? What can you tell yourself besides never? I’ve created this Worksheet (.pdf file) to help you brainstorm.
If you haven’t started a new habit this year, it’s not too late to start. Sign up for my FREE 90 day coaching program to help you make and keep resolutions that stick. It is a text, email, and Facebook based program; you’ll also get a free workbook and access to a live online Q&A with me, Dr. Christine Carter.
Photo by Stuart Burns
(Especially when you are REALLY REALLY tempted to drop it!)
We all understand that when we first attempt to drive a car or ride a bike, we’ll make mistakes. Behavior change is no different; it’s a process of slipping, learning from the mistake, and trying again.”
— John C. Norcross, Changeology
Unless you are some sort of superhero, you will not be able to establish a new habit perfectly the first time. Research indicates that 88 percent of people have failed to keep a new resolution; in my experience as a human being and a coach, 100 percent of people trying to change themselves lapse back to their old selves at least some of the time. So what to do if you’re struggling?
- Don’t get too emotional about your slip or succumb to self-criticism. Instead, forgive yourself. Remind yourself that lapses are part of the process, and that feeling guilty or bad about your behavior will not increase your future success.
- Figure out what the problem is. This may be blazingly obvious, but in order to do better tomorrow, you’ll need to know what is causing your trip-ups. What temptation can you remove? Were you stressed or tired or hungry–and if so, how can you prevent that the next time? Figure it out, and make a specific plan for what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation again. What will you do differently? What have you learned from your slip?
- Beware the “What the Hell” effect. Say you’ve sworn not to check your email before breakfast, but you’ve been online since your alarm went off…three hours ago. You’re now at risk for what researchers formally call the Abstinence Violation Effect (AVE) and jokingly call the “what the hell effect.” If you’ve already blown your plan today, why not go hog wild? What the hell–you can begin again tomorrow, right? Wrong. The more damage you do during your binge, the more likely you are to slip again the next day, and the less confidence you’ll have in yourself that you can change. So as soon as you notice you’ve slipped, go back to your plan. Double down, friends, double down.
- Rededicate yourself to your resolution (now, in this instant, not tomorrow). Why do you want to make the changes that you do? How will you benefit? Do a little deep breathing and calm contemplation of your goals.
- Above all, comfort yourself. To boost follow-through on our good intentions, we need to feel safe and secure. When we are stressed, our brain tries to rescue us by activating our dopamine systems. A dopamine rush makes temptations more tempting. Think of this as your brain pushing you toward a comfort item . . . like the snooze button instead of the morning jog, onion rings instead of mixed greens, or that easy taxi to work rather than the less-than-comfortable urban bike ride. So sometimes the best thing that we can do to help ourselves unplug is to preemptively comfort ourselves in healthy ways. What makes you feel safe and secure–and doesn’t sabotage your goals? Perhaps you need to seek out a hug or take a walk outside.
What are you struggling with? Post a comment and I’ll try to help!
Want more support on your journey to establishing a new habit? 90 Days to a New Habit is my FREE 12-week coaching program. You’ll get a workbook and access to a live Q&A to give you guidance and structure in establishing a new habit.
I feel confident that if you pick the right habit (and I’ll guide you in picking the right habit) you’ll have it well established by the end of this program. This 12-week email and text based coaching program is practical, do-able, and science-based. Enroll now!
Photo by Morgan B
Watched this video with my daughter and we both got #goosebumps! This is a story that puts it all in perspective.
You miss 100 percent of all the shots you never take. — Wayne Gretzky
Fun fact: Most people are starting to falter at their New Year’s Resolutions by now. (If you are enrolled in my free coaching program, I’m hoping you are going strong! But if not, read on.)
If you are anything like me, setbacks, lapses, and mistakes can come with a fair amount of self-flagellation. Somehow I think that if I’m really hard on myself, I’ll be less likely to make the same mistake again, or I’ll motivate myself towards better performance in the future. Admitting our failings does not need to come with commensurate self-criticism, however.
Here’s why: Self-criticism doesn’t work. It doesn’t actually motivate us. Instead, self-criticism is associated with decreased motivation and future improvement.
Self-compassion–being warm and supportive towards ourselves, and actively soothing ourselves–does help matters when we make a mistake or the going gets rough. It leads to less anxiety and depression, greater peace of mind, and, importantly, it makes us feel more motivated to make the improvements we need to.
Take Action: The next time you flub-up, take a deep breath and soothe yourself like you might a small child: use kind, reassuring words to ease yourself out of a stress response (which will only make matters worse).
Photo by Matty Ring