Make it a HAPPIER New Year: follow through on commitments to yourself

Most of us have experienced the impact of someone breaking a commitment they’ve made to us. Trust and respect for them was diminished, right?

So why would it be any different when we break a commitment we’ve made to ourselves?

When we don’t follow through on commitments to ourselves it has a profoundly negative impact on our self-esteem and ability to trust ourselves. Conversely, research tells us that when we keep commitments to ourselves, our self-confidence, energy and general happiness is increased.

As you ponder your resolutions for 2015, here are a few simple things that will help you follow through:

Be realistic: Make small achievable commitments. One or two resolutions is fine. In fact, creating one new positive habit in your life is a big deal! To increase the odds of sticking to your commitments, make sure they are behaviours that will add joy to your life. If you hate going to the gym, don’t commit to make it a regular part of your life, or at least not to start. If you like walking, write it into to your schedule and plan around it. If you like walking with a friend, schedule them and treat it like any other appointment. A couple of 30 minute walks a week is big progress over no physical activity.

Write it down: Research shows we are more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down. So write down your goals in a journal, a day book, or if you feel like getting creative, make a visual display you can put up where you will see it everyday. Then, no thinking about it, just do it. If you slip one day, don’t worry about it, just take action the next day. Change your behaviour first and the rest will fall into place.

Track your progress: Jot down a few sentences about where you are when you begin, and every week after. Make this realistic. Journaling for an hour every week may not work in your life, but you can probably find 10 minutes somewhere. Keep your notebook or journal somewhere that will increase the odds of grabbing it when you have a minute. Lasting change, versus a temporary unsustainable kick, is so gradual that when you compare one week to the next you may not see what you will when you look back at your notes a year from now. If you truly want to achieve lasting change, recording and celebrating it matters.

Give something up: We are all busy, so achieving lasting change almost always means giving something up. Look at how you fill your time. Maybe you can reduce a little TV or internet usage, or perhaps there’s some other time-consuming activity you feel doesn’t add to your well-being. It will be worth it, we promise.

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