Last week we talked about setting your new years resolutions this week we’ll talk about setting yourself up for success. What else are those three or four weird shopping days between Christmas and new years for? The harsh reality is that no one likes change and it’s hard to do even if it’s small or long past overdue. So no matter what you might be planning to change chances are it’s going to need a game plan. I plan to walk you through some changes I’ve made and tell you how I accomplished that. Trust me my routines are more important to me than most and just talking about changing them can make me anxious. That being said I’ve made some pretty big resolutions in the last 5 years and made A LOT of positive life changes. This post really is the second in a two part series so check out last Wednesday’s post too.
Fill The Void
This applies to any quit type resolutions and maybe some others too. If your successful and you do want to be, your not just quitting a bad habit you’re creating a big ol hole in your life. This might be quitting smoking, drinking, shopping or something else big. Chances are that takes up a decent amount of your time and energy but it also fills a need you might not know you have. Spend some serious time thinking about what your getting from the habit beyond filling your time.
Let’s deal with the time issue first. If you spend your evenings drinking, your Saturdays at the mall or your drive to work smoking you need to find or create something to do with that time otherwise when that time comes you’ll just think I wish I was doing XXX now plus be bored and eventually cave in to that feeling. When I quit smoking I knew that when I was idle in the evenings that was going to be the worst. I remembered back to when I was in university and knitting for the yellow ribbon cancer society I would often forget to smoke. Probably because it kept my hands busy and to a certain extent my head too counting stitches. So I figured that was probably a good place to start. Before my quit date came on the first I taught myself to crochet and picked up some new knitting needles and yarn which turned out to be a good idea but read the next section to find out how I made it into a reward too. It turned out that I was busy creating that winter and spring because in addition to the two bed sized blankets I made my sister announced she was pregnant with her first and Richard was soon to be a grandad too. So lots of cute little things to make!
Lots of our bad habits start for one reason and continue for another until they become a problem. That problem is often bigger that just the giant dragon of addiction too. Quitting drinking or drugs, gambling or shopping very well may make your life fall apart on a bigger level than you could ever expect. Lots of people who get sober from one thing end up with a new drug of choice for this reason. All of these things numb us to our feelings to a certain extent and giving them up can cause depression, eating disorders, anxiety or other mental health issues to come to the surface. You might quit shopping all weekend and find yourself clubbing all night with the assistance of stimulants because it turns out buying new things was a source of self confidence and affirmation. Quitting pot or drinking might bring to the surface an issue with for from your teenage years with food as you look for a new way to numb out from your feelings. Quitting smoking or bitting your nails might mean you don’t have a physical go to for dealing with day to day anxiety and you can’t sleep all of a sudden. This is a little harder to pregame before you quit but it’s certainly not impossible. In general making time for easy go to self care time can be a great place to start, so gather supplies in advance. Some of my favourite ideas and bubble baths with a full youtube subscription feed, face masks, amazing cups of tea you sit and drink mindfully and a great yoga class. But keep your eyes open for early warning signs of mental health issues or other worse habits coming to the surface. Keep reading about other’s experiences after your quit date, you’re not alone. If things start to get out of hand reach out for help rather than back-sliding to bad habits if need be. This could include your family or friends you can talk to, support groups or your doctor or Therapist. It’s a bit weird to hear but did you know one of the top three reasons people hire therapists is for help with addictions? If this is one of the things that has made you quit quitting this habit before put all the pieces in place before you start stopping.
Drinking less (which turned out to be virtually not at all) freaked me out more than I expected. I nailed it on the first try but it threw me at first more than I expected. I worried a lot about fitting in socially while turning down a glass of wine, which I was known to enjoy, especially with my family the way it is. It ended up bringing more feelings to the surface than I expected and it was only after quitting that I realized a couple of glasses of wine after a tough day had become a giant crutch for me. I ended up leaning hard on a stone cold sober friend with a few addictions well in the rear view more than I thought I ever would. I never ever thought I would need a quasi sponsor to stop but I did appreciate the help. It turns out it’s not big deal at all, no one notices what your drinking or if you are at all, a lot of them are too tipsy to notice. Even though I was far from having a diagnosable issue I wish I would have thought hard before about the supports I might need rather than cobbling them together as I went. Working through negative feelings on a run rather than 1/2 a bottle of wine turned out to be just the ticket.
Build in a Reward
Build a reward into your change plan! People love rewards even if they give them to themselves. If your resolution is to get fit register for a 1/2 marathon in a town you’ve always wanted to visit for a weekend. Trying to save money by quitting smoking put 1/3 (about $5) from every pack away for a vacation or new car. Your still saving twice that amount and you’re smoke free but it doesn’t have to be that direct at all. We all have little things or big things we want to do but we don’t let ourselves for one reason or another. Maybe it’s taking a class, springing for organic, taking your vacation days or some project you’d love to see completed. Try to tie these things in as rewards to your resolution as seamlessly as possible. Years ago I pinned a crazy knitted blanket with huge needles and a easy stitch so it would go quick and it was beautiful and virtually sure to work out well. The thing is I wanted to make it for a queen sized bed, it required fancier yarn and it knitted 4 strands together so it was an expensive project. It would cost at lest $400 dollars to make, way more if you didn’t look for sales or used more than the minimum of fancy yarn. Quitting smoking was the perfect excuse to finally make it. A few weeks before I started collecting yarn from yarn holders online and cruising the sales. That ran out fairly quickly and at some points my knitting habit was more expensive than smoking but it was a good reward that actually helped me quit. If you can’t think of a way to tie your reward into your resolution just lie to yourself. Taking more time for myself meant prioritizing exercise so why not link it to training for my. first 1/2.
Do the Leg Work Before Hand
There can be some running around, buying yarn or a vape before hand like you’re thinking but there is also mental stuff too. It’s really helpful to read as much as you can about the changes you are trying to make before hand rather than as you go. You’ll know what to expect but it’s also nice to know that others struggled too. As you’re poking around online start book marking pages that you like to return to as the struggle becomes real. As terrible as the internet can be it’s a wealth of very specific information on every subject available. In fact its sometimes overwhelming, but if you find yourself having a harder tie than you anticipated it can come in handy. Also reading about it in detail can keep you motivated while distracted. Perfect!
One thing that can help if you’re looking to change something big is making a list of what you want to change, why and how you’ll do it. This turned out to be accidentally very helpful to me when I decided to make alcohol a smaller part of my life and take better care of myself after grad school was over. I made a list in a vulnerable moment of why I wanted to make the change. Then I tucked it into the back of a desk drawer and forgot about it. Then I found it realized none of those things had gotten any better and made a big change. To that end I created this printable for you to fill out about the change you need to make. I would suggest filling it out when you’re forced to admit it’s time and keeping it somewhere private to look at when you need to. But if you think the fridge door or nightstand is better for you, do you!
When it comes to doing the leg work on your resolution it might be picking up nail polish supplies to try to finally quit bitting your nails, the patch or a vape for quitting smoking or creating a spa drawer in you bathroom for self care, setting up office and bathroom recycle cans or getting a drying rack and retractable clothes line. But making a big lifestyle change is stressful enough you don’t need to also have a full to do list of errands at the same time.
This Year’s Resolutions
I haven’t totally, totally nailed these down yet or at least have all of them figured out. One thing I want to do is wear less make-up and take better care of my skin. Right now and for the past three years I’ve been in a pretty heavy make-up phase, other times for years at a time I’ve worn none. This one started when I had a bad bout of alopecia three years ago. Not only did that mean lots of hats and scarves but also no eyelashes and half an eyebrow was missing. I leaned pretty heavily on make-up for some confidence. I had to learn all about fake eyelashes and brow products for the first time and got pretty heavy into the youtube beauty community. I left the fake lashes behind as soon as I could but now my routine is too much, too long and probably gives the wrong impression about me. But it’s hard to cut back drastically if you are used to looking prefect each day. I plan to take better care of my skin so I feel better heading out with less on, buying some lighter shadows and blush and finding some more natural looks online to get me there. By the time the weather gets warmer I’d like to have a no fuss routine down pat. That and I’m starting to think all that cake is aging me!
I want to stick to doing my knee exercises and I’ve already made some changes there. Honey puts a loonie in the knee jar every day I do them. And when I skipped a couple days he started asking for them back. Ouch! Also it turns out you can crush candy and do leg exercises at the same time.
Finally I want to do something good for the environment beyond getting my oil buring truck fixed but I’m not sure what that’s going to be yet….
What are your resolutions this year and how are you setting yourself up for success? Are you tackling a big one or a few small ones this year?