It’s the beginning of a new year, and we all need to be realistic and open to looking at ways to improve ourselves. It is not an easy proposition, but with a little devotion it can be done. Take sometime now and begin by writing down tangible things you want in the next year, and then begin planning how you will achieve those goals. Look at the different aspects of your life from work to home life, and figure out what would you like to see change.
How To Make These Changes Happen
The first thing about change is to be realistic. Weight loss and exercise are some of the most common areas people want to be change. If you gained 50 pounds over the last five to ten years, it is unlikely that in 3-6 months that you will permanently lose the weight. However, losing a pound a week with a plan that involves changing your food intake, exercise, and having support of others and more knowledge of what has led to weight gain, may lead to success.
To be successful one also has to make the time for the change to happen. If exercising daily is a goal, sitting for an hour watching TV may have to change. You need to look at your current schedule and see what can be changed to make something happen. Further, do not fight with yourself. If you are not a morning person, do not try to wake up extra early to exercise since it is unlikely to happen. Find a time like after work and make it a priority, and combine it with something you like doing, such as watching TV at the same time or maybe listening to audio books.
Having help to make a change in your life is useful and motivating. Being part of a community with similar goals can help drive you through positive social connections. Sharing the challenge of exercise or weight loss with others who have the same desires can push you forward when you may have doubts. A team of support and friends to share the triumphs can make the grind easier since it is not only about you.
One of the hardest things to make a change is having motivation. Everyone has something different that makes one tick. Finding what keeps you going is tough and usually you need multiple reasons. Exercise makes almost everyone feel better overall, but that is often insufficient. For many, without exercise, their pain increases, stress increases, energy levels go down, sleep deteriorates, and for some if they stop, surgery may be the next treatment option. Further, some people are self-motivated while others need to be with others to be consistent and be part of a community or team.
Lastly, change is difficult, and consider a secondary plan if the goals are not being met. Sometimes there are a variety of factors that interfere with meeting a new goal. Do not get stuck with negative thoughts of failure. Change the targets and keep trying to move forward. Look for a different strategy and seek out help to make change. No one is alone in this world and there are numerous resources for help to meet almost any reasonable goal. Think positive and move forward, do not try to change too many aspects of your life at once. Choose just a few things and make it point of achieving them, and then add in new challenges.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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