As we start the New Year, many of us will have made some resolutions. Maybe you've decided to stop smoking or start exercising or eat better. Whatever you’ve resolved, here are some suggestions to make you more likely to succeed.
1) Write down why you want to do whatever you’ve resolved to do. For ex: I want to stop smoking or eat better to set an example for my kids. Keep this list of reasons with you and when you feel your resolve weakening, bring out the list.
2) Get support. Join with others who’ve quit and find out what worked and have them around to help. Or if you're planning to lose weight, do it with your partner. If you're going to go to the gym, go with a friend so you'll be less likely to come up with excuses to back out. Let friends and family know what you plan to do and let them know when you're starting. Pick a date and let people know. You may want to enlist professional support.
3) Some people make their change at once, "cold turkey”. But if you’ve tried before and failed, take it easier this time round. Take advantage and learn from your past efforts. Perhaps you might want to substitute whatever it is with one less or with a different activity. For example: vow to smoke 1 less cigarrette a day or to take a walk every lunchtime instead of a heavy meal. Many people find that slow and steady wins the race.
4) Avoid the triggers. Most of our “addictions” involve situations where we automatically do things. So for example, if you smoke every time you go for a coffee break, go for a walk instead. Chew on gum or a carrot instead of reaching for a cigarette or eating that piece of cake. With exercise, schedule it into your day, plan to meet someone to do it or hire a trainer. In the case of healthier eating, buy healthier food and keep it easily at hand.
5) In some cases you can use medications to help out. In the case of smoking there are all sorts of nicotine replacements, meds and even an electronic device (e cigs). Acupuncture, hypnosis all can help some people not just with smoking but with weight loss and other resolutions.
6) Stress often defeats even the best laid plans, so plan ways to cope with it. Breathing exercises, meditation, whatever works for you.
7) Reward your successes in an appropriate way. For example: use the money you save not smoking to go on a trip; celebrate your weight loss with a new suit.
Be kind to yourself. Remember that there will be moments when you slip, but don’t despair. We know from smoking that people often fail the first time but if they keep at it eventually they do succeed and so will you.