STAYING ON TRACK

So it’s been a little over a week. How are the New Year’s resolutions going? Are you still full of enthused motivation and determination to stay on track? If so, congratulate yourself. It is a great confident boost to know you are achieving. However, if you are like me who has difficultly in changing well ingrains habits over night—I’m convinced bad habits somehow twists themselves round my DNA which is the reason why I don’t make New Year Resolutions—watch out for the many articles and programmes in January that will offer advice on how to stick to your New Year resolutions. But the only thing that works for me at anytime of the year is turning my ‘resolution’ into a daily habit by taking very small steps.  If it doesn’t become part of my daily routine then other mundane but necessary tasks takes precedence and I never get round to doing what I really want to do.

My mother used to say I was a dreamer with my head in the clouds. I probably still am to some extent but when I find the motivation I can focus on a goal without coming up for air until my busy bee mentality morphs into a fluttering butterfly distracted by endless possibilities causing me to faff about from one goal to another, messing up the whole schedule so the quicker I turn my goal into an everyday habit the better.

Creating a routine that includes my new habit helps me make it part of my everyday life. If I treat it as a stick to beat me with or a new fad, like a strict diet or a trip to the gym seven days a week, it is sure to fail because we all know life happens and there are days that refuse to follow a perfect plan. Eating a piece of cake while celebrating a happy event turns out to be stuffed with guilt and regret. Once you blow your diet or miss one workout your newly enthused momenum starts to wane and suddenly you finish of the cake and help yourself to some tasty crisps and cocktail sausages. So the schedule becomes too difficult and you start walking backwards, away from your goals and dreams. It’s inevitable—we are only human—but there is an alternative to the strict diet or tightly structured schedule and the alternative is to accept your lack of perfection as normal and forgivable. There will always be birthday parties and days when it is impossible for you to fit in the gym but it’s just a matter of rescheduling and starting over again until your new behaviour becomes a habit.

When getting back on track is overwhelming, it is best to take small steps. You can’t go from the sofa to swimming marathons or from fries to French beans in one day but you can do one or two things that will help you regain your momentum for healthy living. So you want to drink 8 glasses of water a day? Start with one first thing in the morning and replace one or two cups of coffee or tea during the day with water instead. If you can’t get to the gym, five or ten minutes of exercise where ever you are is better than no exercise. A half an hour of focusing on your goal is better than waiting until tomorrow or next year to begin again. The only way to stay on track is to get back on it now and keep in mind most of us crawled first before we could run.