Make 2014 About Change

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

—Winston Churchill

The New Year is upon us, marking a time of change and growth and new beginnings.

We look to the calendar as a starting point for the change in ourselves, whether it’s finally going back to school, getting in shape or finding a new job.

New Year’s resolutions are about change, which can be a frightening prospect. But if we recognize the value of change, and embrace it, we can move forward with the improvements we want to see in our lives and ourselves.

Making Changes

The history of making New Year’s resolutions goes back to the ancient Babylonians, who made promises to the gods at the outset of each New Year. Of course, the resolutions we make today aren’t usually about returning borrowed farm equipment.

They’re about self-improvement. And changing our behavior takes dedication and time.

Want to get that degree? Lose 15 pounds? Stop smoking?

Making 2014 about change won’t be easy, but taking a measured approach can help. An article from Time Magazine offers five tips for folks who want to keep their resolutions.

Don’t Kid Yourself

Hold yourself accountable, but don’t craft unrealistic goals.

Maybe one treat a day works for you. Maybe taking classes part time makes more sense as you look to continue your education.

The idea is to start down the path toward change without imposing harsh restrictions.

Quit Cold Turkey… Temporarily

An initial period of stopping a bad habit entirely can help you maintain your behavior over the long haul.

If you can endure a change for a short time, your odds of making it part of your life permanently will be better.

Do What the Dalai Lama Would Do

In a word: Meditate.

Focus on your plans for change. Be mindful of your resolution.

The Time article also recommends “urge-surfing.” Recognize that desire is like a wave, with its own peaks and valleys, and learn that it won’t increase relentlessly.

Think of your willpower as you would weightlifting: it strengthen each time you resist the urge.

Don’t Try to Scare Yourself Straight

The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat.

Keep your thoughts focused on the “thrill.”

Concentrating on the benefits of your change in behavior will help you reach your goal, and you should recognize your successes as you hit certain benchmarks.

Get Better Friends

Want to go back to college? Hang out with students. Want to start working out? Reconnect with friends who always hit the gym.

Having a network of social support is an important component of making a change in your life.

Finding a new group will also help you focus on what you should be doing instead of what you need to avoid.

New Year’s Resolutions

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of popular New Year’s Resolutions from USA.gov.

  1. Drink less alcohol
  2. Eat healthy food
  3. Get a better education
  4. Get a better job
  5. Get fit
  6. Lose weight
  7. Manage stress
  8. Quit smoking
  9. Reduce, reuse and recycle
  10. Save money
  11. Take a trip
  12. Volunteer

Even if your resolution is a small one, making a change in your life can unlock greater things.

“What we achieve inwardly will change our outer reality.”

—Plutarch