Most of us have made New Year’s resolutions. Somehow, though, they seem easier to make than to keep. We make a resolution – we almost seem obligated – and have broken it just a week or two later. I have to admit that I’ve followed this pattern for a few years, if not decades. Perhaps you have had the same experience of thinking about a personal change, declaring your intention to change publicly, then breaking that intent a short time later.

This year, I stayed true to form. I started thinking about a New Years’ resolution in November. I certainly had a change I wanted to make. About a year before, I had returned to smoking cigarettes. It was dumb since I had quit this teenage habit more than twenty years ago. Still, there I was, smoking more than a pack a day. How would I stop?

I decided to take change seriously. Rather than making the expected resolution, I decided to get serious about change. In other words, I set my mind on real change. It may seem a small change, but you will find that it makes the essential difference. I found help with this concept in this video by Angel Shannon:

We are setting a declaration of commitment.

How can you set a declaration of commitment in your mind and experience real change in your life? You have thought about changes that would make your life better, yet accomplishing those changes seems nearly impossible. Simple steps, though, can start you on your way.

Steps to personal change:

  • Choose one change to prioritize. After all, if everything is a priority, then nothing is. Choose the one change that you will commit to right now.
  • Consider this choice. Why do you want to make this change? Why is this one so important that it is your priority? Make a list of your reasons – writing down your motivations and intentions will help you develop a deeper understanding of this change and why it matters. Make sure that your list is detailed. For example, I didn’t simply say that I wanted to quit smoking for my health. I listed the many ways that my health is affected.
  • Develop a plan. Your current habit has a place in your life. Replacing those everyday interactions and benefits with more positive habits will make change more realistic. For example, if you are trying to stop eating junk food, develop a healthy snack plan. A nutritionist could help develop that plan. Make sure your plan has details like replacement activities, time for reviewing your commitment, and a start date.
  • Declare your intent to yourself. It isn’t an outward promise; it isn’t made to anyone else. It is an internal commitment to yourself. The energy of your commitment will pull you forward to success.
  • Put your plan into motion. You have done the preliminary work, so you are set up for success! Now take your goal, set by step, down the path to better living. Remember to review your list of reasons for this change, as it will renew your commitment.

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