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New Year resolutions or actual change?

2014 is now well on its way. Many of us have ideas or plans for the year and some of them may be about changing habits or bringing something new into our lives. We could call these aims ‘New Year resolutions’, but then how long will they last?

Everyone’s broken a resolution

We’ve all made plans, discussed them and prepared for putting them in place. We start and often ‘fail’ before we’ve really even begun. But why?

Process of change

There’s a theory about the different stages we go through before breaking a habit or fully adopting a new one. To have a better chance of success with our goal it can be useful to understand the process of change.

There are seven stages to achieving change:

Pre-contemplation

This comes before you’ve even realised there’s something you want to change.

Contemplation

You’ve realised there’s something you want to change and you start thinking about it: the pros and cons, information on what might be needed to bring it about etc. This stage can last a long time. Some of us often don’t move past it!

Preparation

If the idea of change motivates you enough you might start to make plans and work out how to achieve them. The important thing here is to make sure your goals are realistic.

Action

This is where you start to implement the change. It’s one of the most exciting stages, but if you haven’t properly considered or planned how you’re going to bring the change into your life, this is where you can become disillusioned through perceived lack of progress.

Maintenance

This is one of the hardest stages. It’s about integrating the change or new behaviour into your life and keeping it up. It’s important to bear in mind that it won’t always be this hard, it’s just a stage!

Relapse

This is as much a part of the process as anything else. We’ve all experienced getting so-far with something before giving it up. The key is not to see it as failure. Just because you’ve stopped doesn’t mean you’ve finished. Don’t beat yourself up about it and maybe just carry on with your plan tomorrow.

Changed!

After a while and much stopping and starting the change or new behaviour will become less of a chore. You’ll notice it isn’t so much of an effort after all and you may even wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.

Go easy on yourself

For many of us change is hard work. Don’t dismiss the effort you put in and don’t bully yourself if you don’t succeed straight away. True change takes time. Remember, it’s a process. There’s no point in expecting miracles, but that doesn’t mean your goals aren’t possible.

Good luck!

What resolutions or goals have you set for 2014? Do yo have any tips for success or avoiding pitfalls? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear about your experiences. 

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