You’ve done it every year. You make a resolution to change- to be healthier, to be a better person, to lose that pesky 20 lbs, but somewhere around spring break you find yourself falling back into the same old habits of the years before. To truly implement change, you must overcome potential obstacles before they overcome you and to do that, it takes building an action plan or personal strategy. Here is an example of one to get you started …
So this year, maybe you want to be more spiritually connected, you want to meditate more, want to be a better friend, want to learn and challenge yourself, but so far life has gotten in your way. You wait to check off all your to-do’s before you just be and therefore become what Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to as a “human doing,” vs. “human being.”
Somewhere along the line, you start to feel off balance and out of touch with the extraordinary way of living you always envisioned and instead, find yourself just getting by like the proverbial hamster on a wheel. So what might one do to get back in touch with an extraordinary way of being this New Year?
Start by listing all of the things you know go into keeping you balanced and fulfilled:
3) Healthy eating
4) Cultivating friendships
Now, ask yourself, “when am I most likely to get these things done?” Are you more efficient when you first wake in the morning, or at night- after all the family has gone to sleep and you’ve had your coffee for the day?
Next, create a detailed action plan to begin implementing these things into your daily regimen. To avoid pitfalls, you must first identify any unique obstacles that might get in your way of success in 2011:
1) I know if I don’t exercise at the beginning of the day, I will have come up with 23 excuses why I don’t need to by the afternoon
Answer–> You’ve identified that you need to exercise before doing anything else that day. You may have to make sure your work out bag is laid out the night before (shoes, water bottle, ipod, etc.).
2) I know that by the end of the day, I don’t think as clearly and find that I make poorer decisions then.
Answer–> You’ve identified that you are a clearer thinker early in the day. So maybe this is when you sit down to plan your meals for the week, and do your grocery shopping.
3) It seems that when I wake up in the morning, my thoughts are racing with all the things I need to do for the day. I don’t ever feel like I can rest until I’ve checked off my to-do list.
Answer–> You’ve identified that you are probably more apt to have an effective and calming meditation session later in the day, when you’ve been able to check off most of your to-do list for the day.
After identifying obstacles and developing strategies to overcome them, begin to schedule them into your week as you would important appointments. By engaging in this behavior, week after week, you begin to make your well-being and happiness just as much of a priority as you do your weekly errands (and why shouldn’t our happiness take precedence over dry cleaning, dentist exams, and grocery shopping?).
John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens, while we’re busy making other plans.” Instead of whittling down your list of “I should’s,” why not begin planning to actually live your life- today?
Dr. Colleen Long (PSY23911) is the resident psychologist at oBand and the author of “Happiness in B.A.L.A.N.C.E.” Dr. Long works mainly from a positive psychology framework as it applies to addiction, depression, relationships, body image and weight loss. Her website can be found at www.DrColleenLong.com. For a free consultation please contact her at 1-800-593-2560