How to Make Changes That Stick

According to one survey, the top three resolutions made by Americans in 2009 are:
1. Losing weight — 20%
2. Quitting smoking — 16%
3. Spending less — 12%

About 80% of people who make resolutions stop keeping them by mid-February. Two-thirds of dieters gain back any lost weight within a year. Many people make and break the same resolution year after year.

Those factoids were compiled by Gretchen Rubin this morning. A little depressing, isn’t it? Why can’t people seem to get out of their ruts?! Maybe it’s what Dr. Unson said in my last post on change… change is scary. But c’mon, is losing weight scary? More positively stated, is being healthy scary? Is doing what you love, scary? Read Tracy Bautista’s tips on how to make changes in your routine… and how to make them stick.

“That lovely little thing called change can be a product of choice or may be thrust upon us like an unwelcome guest. Depending on how change decides to make its appearance, the keys to embracing it vary to some degree, but are largely similar. Regardless of the type of change you’re confronting, here are a few recommendations on working through both.

How do these types of changes make you feel? Likely they feel somewhat exciting, scary, full of hope and potential. Perhaps this type of change even fills you with a sense of resonance. If not, chances are this change you’re trying to embrace is more of a “should.” As a result, it has less likelihood of taking root and moving you forward and instead, creates a sense of heaviness, burden and guilt.

If this is where you find yourself, modify the change you’re pursuing so that the thought of it makes your eyes sparkle or sends a wave of warm tingles through your body. If your choice thrills you, you cannot help but lean into it.

For example, this past summer I found myself in need of a regular exercise routine for mental and physical reasons. I tried running and meditating on a regular basis. The running part worked, but the meditation didn’t. I begrudgingly attempted to meditate but ended up bored and frustrated instead of calm and centered. So much for the sparkle in my eye.

So I went on to Plan B. This time, I decided to give yoga a shot as the means to balance my running. It didn’t feel as intimidating as meditation and I felt an excitement about learning this new means of connecting and calming. I gave myself the modest goal of 10 minutes of yoga per week — I was being gentle with myself. As I embarked on this change, I felt excited about getting out of bed to do yoga. Put a checkmark next to sparkle in my eye.

After a few weeks of doing more yoga than just 10 minutes per week, I found myself doing 10 minutes of yoga every day. And before long, I was doing 30 minutes each day. Now doing yoga on a daily basis feels like brushing my teeth – my day isn’t officially started until I’ve done my yoga.

The point here is that the first time I attempted to find calm and connection, it bombed. It felt like a “should” and was never going to stick. When I found a change that deeply resonated for me, even created a sense of excitement, that’s when I knew I was truly embracing this change.

That being said, there are other obstacles you might encounter along this path towards change. One of these obstacles is called the saboteur, also called a gremlin. This obstacle is a little monster that lives within each of us and serve (unhealthily) as a deterrent towards becoming our best selves. They show up in our lives as excuses, perceived constraints to moving forward, and often tell us “you’re too _________” or “you’re not _________ enough,” etc. Their sole purpose is to keep us stuck in the status quo and away from embracing the positive changes we desire.

In working with my clients, I advise them to deal with these saboteurs by first simply noticing them. Just acknowledging them can go far in freeing ourselves from the gremlin’s hold. This acknowledgement gives you the opportunity to step outside of yourself to see that the gremlin is not a part of your core or your spirit. You have a choice to disengage from “it.”

Tracy Bautista is a corporate America executive, personal and executive coach-in-training, mother of two preschool boys (one a cancer survivor), wife, yogini, runner, writer, chef and bad-ass in a pink tutu (owner of Pink Tutu Enterprises, LLC).

If you are like most of the world, you are reflecting on the last year, looking forward at the new year and making lists and resolutions. So what’s on your list?

p.s. Don’t let the pork roast, mashed potatoes and cheddar bread be your gremlins today!

Related Articles: How to Embrace Change, How to Take Charge of Your Destiny

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