Use These Six Steps to Motivate Yourself to Change

As the New Year approaches, are you looking to make a change? Are you ready to retire an old habit and replace it with a new, healthier way of living? Here are six tips for motivating yourself to make new, life-enhancing choices in the coming year. 1. Engage Your Imagination. Since motivation always follows imagination, take time to visualize yourself joyfully engaging in your new, chosen behavior. For example, if you want to begin exercising more regularly after work, start envisioning yourself exercising and feeling fabulous. Picture how good it feels to move your body after a mostly sedentary day at the office. Imagine yourself feeling fit and vigorous, brimming with vitality and enjoying the whole experience. The more you practice your new behavior in your mind's eye, the more inspired you will feel to incorporate it into your lifestyle. 2. Take Baby Steps. Begin with little changes that are reasonable. For example, if you are currently a couch potato, don't expect yourself to suddenly begin exercising for an hour a day. That's just a set-up to fail. It's much better to start small, and gradually build up to an hour a day. A reasonable goal might be to begin exercising three days a week for twenty minutes at a time. As this gets easier, you can include more days, and make your exercise sessions a bit longer. 3. Use Positive Self-Talk. Remind yourself that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Focus on where you are going--not where you have been. Self-criticism is not motivating--rather, it is paralyzing. Speak to yourself in encouraging ways. Pat yourself on the back for being willing to try to establish new, healthier habits. Focusing on how you could have or should have changed sooner is simply a waste of energy. Celebrate the fact that you are making a positive change today! 4. Find a Buddy. You don't have to do this alone. It can be very helpful to team up with someone else who is trying to make the same changes that you are. Join a support group, or find a friend with similar goals. Make a commitment to check in with each other daily by phone or email to hold each other accountable and to offer encouragement. 5. Be Gentle with Yourself. You will, at times, slide backwards, disappoint yourself, and fail to meet your own expectations. Don't let a little backsliding dishearten you. Remind yourself to take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is another opportunity to practice your new, healthier lifestyle. 6. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others. You will always find someone who is farther along the path than you are. Keep your focus on your own progress, rather than on how you measure up to others. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time and energy, and only leads to discouragement. It really doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. What matters are the choices you make today to live a better life!