Clinical Counsellor and Author.
Sometimes we aim for the stars when we are only ready to grasp low-hanging fruit. If you’ve abandoned your New Year’s resolution already, it may be because your expectation was beyond your means. Here are some simple ways to get back that spark you started with only a few weeks ago.
Start out small. It may be that you were planning to go cold turkey with a bad habit, or that you planned to practice your new habit too frequently. Both of these approaches can be unmanageable. Scale down your expectation of yourself. Once you are doing well for a number of weeks, and you find yourself to be consistent without much struggle, you can increase your expectation of yourself. For example, instead of trying to work out 5 days a week for 1.5 hours, start out with 3 times a week for 1 hour.
Seek out support. When you feel alone in overcoming a challenge, it is hard to keep up your motivation. Reach out to others with similar goals. Reach out to friends and let them know about the changes you’re trying to make. They will be able to provide you with moral support, or keep you accountable.
Set up a schedule. If it’s a behaviour you’re trying to start, set a regular alert in your phone or calendar to complete your task at a realistic time. Otherwise, life will start to get in the way, and your new goal will start to lose it’s priority and prominence. For example, if you want to read the Quran regularly, set a daily alert in your for phone to read for 5 minutes at 10:30pm, when you know you’ll likely be in a quiet place.
Be patient with yourself. You have years of practice doing things the opposite way of what you’re trying to achieve. Change means your brain will slowly re-wire itself. This takes months. Sometimes years! If you’ve been smoking for 15 years, it’s not realistic to expect you will be able to kick the habit in two months. You will regress…often, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never reach your goal. You’ll get there. Be patient and keep getting back on that horse.
Shereeza Ibrahim is a clinical counsellor. She is the owner of GTA Wellness Consultation (647-3344556) where she offers telephone-counselling services. She is also the author of the Islamic children’s book “Talaal and the Whispering Worrier”, which teaches children healthy coping strategies (available at Hijab Fashions).