It’s that time of year when every media source inundates you with promises of foolproof ways to become a New You in the New Year. Of course, these tantalizing offers are complete with urgency-ramping “deals” suggesting you should act now before the price goes up or all your friends get more organized, productive, happy, svelte, fit before you. But could all these promises of “New Year, New You” actually make you feel worse and sabotage your goals?
Yes…what is intended to offer hope can leave you stressed or depressed, unless you do some important work before you start.
Of course in my current sugar-overloaded, moderately S.A.D. state, I completely understand the allure of an easy-to-follow program that will make self-control or even self-actualization oh-so attainable! I can almost taste a “new” version of me—clear-headed, clean-eating, grounded, focused, fit, creative, productive model of a successful coach, speaker, consultant, not to mention loving and patient spouse, friend, mother, daughter, etc., etc., etc. Yeah, yeah…. or I could just taste one more completely reliably leftover cookie ;)!
So how can you (and I) leverage the freshness and hope of a new year to successfully make some intentional changes?
5 Tips to Outsmart the “New Year, New You” Pitfalls:
- Change the premise: THE CURRENT YOU IS GOOD NOW—yes, even if you have put on a few pounds, lost control of your organizational system, run adrift in the relationship department, missed a promotion, felt disenfranchised by this past year’s events, struggled with depression, or gotten off-track from your dreams, felt . Unless you do a little work to love the current you, you will be relying on your inner critic to motivate you with should’s and shame—a surefire recipe for failure.
You don’t have to be thrilled about your current situation, but you do have to have faith in yourself and your ability to use your strengths to create new behaviors.If you do not feel like you are starting from a positive, empowered premise, then get some help to get there. Revisit your successes and your strengths. Ramp up your self-compassion—it’s powerful.
You don’t need a new you; you need the current you to feel strong and self-directed.
- Beware the marketing of magical thinking. We all want it to be easy. If I am honest, I don’t really want to change my behavior and stop eating cookies, I just want to feel energetic, lithe, and fit. I want the magic or insanity! But I know reality and so do you. You will have to change something to get a different result. And you can—with clarity, motivation, and support.A new outcome requires new behaviors, choices, and habits, all of which require asking your brain to give up its easy, go-to pathways and build ones—new wiring for new habits. This is brainpower and effort intensive, so it really helps to be efficient, clear, and motivated…and set yourself up to be successful.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” –Albert Einstein
- Get clear about what you really want. This sounds simple, but can be quite tricky or easily skipped when the shiny, new year/new you beckons. Good programs or good coaches know this can be the most important step.You may start focused on wanting to lose weight, when what you really crave is feeling more connected to what you are doing or to the people in your life. That shift in focus can truly empower you.
Picture yourself accomplishing your goals. What is that you want to feel? Why? Ask yourself why again. Again. Keep asking until you dial down to your real goals and your real motivation. Use this clarity to set intentions—they are powerful.
- Get clear why you want this. Again, go beyond the media promises, pat answers, inner critic thinking, and “should’s.” They do not cut it in the long run. And you know by now that willpower is just not that powerful- darn it!Feeling connected to your real “why” will give you the intrinsic motivation you need to finish strong when “muscling through” gets old. Revisit your values—what really drives your to be your best, to be strong? What has successfully motivated you in the past? What gives you the most deep-down satisfaction? What helps you ignore distraction and temptation to stay focused on your intentions? Create reminders of your why everywhere.
- Nurture yourself in every way. Behavior change requires a strong, energized mind and body. Do not make the mistake of focusing so hard on one aspect of your life at the expense of good general self-care. And never focus on deprivation—your mind and body will sabotage that approach! (Beware the denial time bomb as well!)You have to take care of your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (connection/big picture) energy or something winds up out of whack—it’s the science of human. If you are working on a productivity goal you’d better have the right building blocks in your brain. If you are changing your relationship with food, nurture it with the people and concerns that matter to you.
This does not mean you need to overhaul everything at once—NO!!! Small steps are the answer to creating a new you! But do check in with yourself more often. Be honest. Ask for what you need. Make a plan to handle stress. Think about the whole system you rely on to be healthy, happy, smart, and effective.
The New Year brings a feeling of new opportunity to clean out, clear up, or start fresh. You can leverage that feeling and you can create a new you, but if you are not really ready, grounded, and clear, it is too easy to waste your precious time, money, and energy.
Take time to get clear about what you want for yourself in the year ahead and how you work/live/love best—there is no better investment in your future. Then carefully vet your choices to find the program, coach or system that will best support your success.
Reflection gives you access to your hard-earned wisdom. Proceed wisely, grounded in your values, using your unique strengths, connected to what matters to you. Set intentions and revisit them every day. Stay curious. Get creative. Practice calm. Laugh often. Exercise compassion. Connect more. Celebrate all wins.
And never, ever hesitate to reach out for support, encouragement, or direction. No one said figuring out how to live well is easy. Luckily humans are wired to be more successful together.
If you would like to explore coaching or take control of your stress in new ways to create a new you this year, give me a call (828-777-9730) or sign up for tips and updates on my website. You’ve got this!