Sometimes You’ll Have Off Days…That’s Okay.

It’s a new year, and everyone’s making (or possibly already breaking) resolutions to improve their lives, become better people, really make a lasting change this time. The full-speed-ahead attitude that comes with a new year’s resolution is great, but we all know that feeling wears off and you are soon left to face the music: Making a change, especially a lasting change, is really hard.

I never bothered with New Year’s resolutions, even as a kid (I think even then they felt sort of phony), but I have made several attempts at sweeping life change. Sometimes they take, sometimes they don’t. But here are a couple of things to keep in mind while you work through your goals, no matter what they may be; to lose weight, to quit smoking, to travel more, to get a new job, anything.

1) Change takes time.
Real, lasting change does not happen over night. You’re breaking through years of bad habits and ingrained thought patterns, so creating new ones will take persistence. Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect rock solid abs by January 7th. Allow yourself the time to let the change happen.

2) Off days happen. It’s okay.
Some days you’ll get up and start in on your exercise routine or sit down at your keyboard to write your daily word goal and you just won’t feel it. You’ll plod through your routine thinking things like, “This will never work,” “I’m a hack,” “I don’t know why I decided to do this in the first place,” “I want to go back to bed,” etc. Give yourself permission to have days like this. Not every day is going to be fantastic, but bumping up against this sort of thing is what causes a lot of people to fail. They convince themselves during those off days that they really ARE a hack, or this really WILL never work.

It’s not true. When you’re working toward a positive change, the brain will try all sorts of tricky tactics to keep control over the sameness and comfort it is used to. Work through it. Get up tomorrow and try again. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on your off day. Accept it for what it was (a natural part of the process), and move on. Besides, the off days are what make the really GOOD days seem even sweeter!

Happy 2011!