When seeking to make a life change, many of us neglect one of the most important components that can set us up for success… or failure: the people with whom we choose to surround ourselves.
Friends and Family Can Be Your Allies
…Or They Can Be Toxic
Let’s look at weight loss as an example. People who wish to lose weight often find that despite their decision to change, they are still surrounded by people who may have habits that are less healthy. Oftentimes, the issues may not even be that the people around you are maliciously attempting to derail your efforts, though that is sometimes the case. Making a major change may require a level of discipline that others may simply not require in the same areas in their own lives. In understanding that concept, you can actively take steps to plan ahead to improve your likelihood of achieving your self- improvement goals.
Seek Out Likeminded People
In keeping with the weight loss example, there are multiple ways a person who wishes to lose weight can find a supportive network of likeminded people. The obvious option might be to join a weight loss program or take classes at a gym. Nowadays, many hospitals and community centers offer free classes and events that are aimed at helping members of the community connect and learn about healthy living. Other options include joining a Meetup group in your area or even participating in an online group that focuses on weight loss. There may even be opportunities to connect with others who share similar goals at home and at work. Having lunch with a vegan coworker might be more favorable that tagging along with a group that usually goes for fast food. Joining a recreational league may also provide an opportunity to make new fitness-oriented friends while getting regular exercise.
But What If My Family Isn’t Onboard?
If you live with family members who do not share your goals, you may wish to think strategically about the activities you can still do with them without compromising your progress. For example, if your family refuses to eat healthy, but you still want to have meals with them, consider preparing a separate meal for yourself, or have your healthy meal prior to joining them. Then limit yourself to having a salad, healthy snack, or smoothie while with them. In other examples, a person who wants to control his or her spending may suggest low-cost activities to do with others or decide to stick to a limited cash budget. Someone who wishes to stop using drugs or alcohol may decide to only meet others in settings in which drugs and alcohol are not allowed or cannot be used openly. There are also times when an individual must choose his or her own well-being and progress over continuing to socialize with people who do not support the positive lifestyle change.
Overall, deciding to eliminate bad habits and replace them with new ones does not mean living a life full of solitude and restrictions. By always looking for opportunities to meet like-minded people and spend time doing activities that reinforce the positive change, you will greatly enhance your likelihood of achieving your goals, and you may just find yourself having fun while doing it.
Business Insider Magazine reports 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail before February. Now that we are a few weeks into January, you may feel yourself reverting to those habits you’ve wanted to change. The following tips will help you keep going strong into February and beyond:
1. Set benchmarks. Instead of planning to immediately make a gigantic change all at once, set benchmarks that will ultimately lead you to your larger goal. For example, if you want to start cooking at home and eliminate fast food, reduce the number of times you go out for fast food by half. Next month, reduce that number by half again. Keep cutting down until you’re no longer eating fast food. In some cases, you may need to make very immediate changes up front (i.e. if your health dictates an immediate switch), in which case you should do whatever your health professional tells you. But in most cases, gradual change is more likely to become permanent behavior.
2. Get back on the horse! It’s VERY easy to give up on your diet after having a forbidden dinner, throw your commitment to arriving on time out the window the first couple times you’re late to work, or to skip a couple days at the gym and never go back. Instead of feeling like you have to go back to the drawing board, pick up where you left off as if you never missed a beat.
3. Assess yourself frequently. If you are having difficulty making a change or sticking to a resolution, evaluate why you have decided to make the change, and consider all possible mental, emotional, and situation blocks that may be preventing you from making the change. Then work to bypass or, if necessary, eliminate those blocks.
4. Consult someone with more experience. When in doubt, seek help. Hire a coach. Ask a friend who has been there/done that. Join my Facebook group! Transformation is much more easily attained with the support of like-minded people. My goal for the group is to create a community of people who are focused on becoming the best version of themselves and helping others along the way!