New Year’s Day, the day of good intentions and resolutions. Many of us woke up this morning with a desire to change and the drive to make it happen, yet so many of these dreams remain unpacked and unfulfilled as the days progress; life gets in the way, boredom sets in, willpower falters … and we give in to more of the same. It is easy to talk ourselves out of change and remain stuck and unhappy. So why do we do this to ourselves if it does us no good?
Well, however much we try to persuade ourselves otherwise, human beings are creatures of habit and routine. Left to our own devices, we easily fall into known patterns of behaviour as a way to control the unpredictability that is life. However toxic and trapping these routines and patterns can become, they help us to feel safe; and change represents a real threat to this sense of comfort and structure. So we often choose to remain stuck; safe but unhappy.
In order to break free of negative behaviours and patterns, it is therefore important to make change the new routine. The best way to do that is to change how we view change. Change is exciting and new but also scary and threatening to our innate desire for constancy. So if we see change as a holiday from the norm instead of a threat to it, we are much more likely to give it a go. If that holiday feels good then we can always extend it into a permanent vacation from those old unwanted or harmful behaviours.
So the first step is to set a holiday duration for change. Give it a month. Give it January. Thirty-one days and see how you feel. If you enjoy the change, extend it. Slowly the change will become routine, and the old habits will become just that ... old. But the main thing is to just get started. So pack your sunglasses and sun-cream and treat change as a midwinter break, not a prison sentence. There are plenty of January initiatives to help you new behaviours or give substances a holiday. Who knows, this might be the best permanent vacation you ever embarked upon!