It’s January– a great time to make New Year’s resolutions. But if you’re like most of us, January is also a great time to break New Year’s resolutions. It doesn’t have to be this way.
If you want to make resolutions that stick, leave the perfectionism out. Perfectionism is that all or none thinking that only understands the letter of the law, not the spirit. It’s the voice in our heads that says: “you missed a day at the gym, I knew you would, get real, give it up!” But the fact is, what’s real when we set any goal is that: 1) progress is always one step forward, two steps back, 2) habits take time to get established, and 3) in general, getting support from others will keep us on track.
So, set some goals, but to stay in the game and on your feet, don’t let perfectionism be your referee. You call the shots. Aim for sustainable change, not perfection. Lasting change takes time, and you are worth the investment. Your goals and aspirations are worth your persistence. Perfectionism doesn’t understand this, but you can.
Fives Ideas to Give your Resolutions More Staying Power
1. Make resolutions you can stick to
Many people set overly optimistic targets such as lose 100 pounds, stop eating out, exercise seven days a week. If you stop going to social outings because you are on a diet you will be miserable. Think small – lose 10 pounds, exercise three times a week, eat something before the party. Always thinking you have to hit the bulls-eye creates more anxiety.
2. Make resolutions you can control
Whether you fall in love or find a job is out of your control. However, you can say, “I am going to join Match.com or eHarmony” or “I am going to volunteer to make connections.” You can control how often you eat out but not the refrigerator breaking.
3. Be specific
One of the top resolutions from last year was spend more time with family. What does that mean for you? Perhaps it’s spending “x” number of hours a week with your spouse or your children, or resolving to eat dinner together as a family once a week.
4. Allow for slip ups
Just because you had dessert doesn’t mean you are a diet failure. It’s just what happened at that one meal. Don’t over-interpret the slips. It’s an isolated event not a trend. You can get back on track.
5. Enlist a friend as a resolution buddy
This is more important than posting the list on your fridge or flaunting your resolutions. Ask a friend, relative or co-worker to hold you accountable. It’s a supportive way of keeping tabs on yourself.
Dr. Chansky is the founder and director of the Children’s and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety in suburban Philadelphia and author of four books including “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want.”
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