Sustainable Change

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The New Year is a time of change. Many embrace the season as an opportunity to create resolutions with great intentions to be healthier but are often disappointed weeks later when they are unable to sustain them. There are several reasons why resolutions prove to be difficult to maintain, but with thought and planning, one can make lasting change for the better.

A potential problem with a resolution is that it is too far outside a person’s norm. Not only is this type of resolution hard to start, it’s difficult to sustain.

For example, if someone doesn’t exercise, setting a goal of exercising 60 minutes a day may be too far outside their normal exercise time of zero. The difficulty with this type of goal is self-image. If you don’t see yourself as someone who exercises, it will be hard to sustain a goal of 60 minutes a day of exercise.

The following are some of the dos and don’ts of kicking off the new year with a commitment of
healthier habits.
Don’t:

 Set a goal that is too lofty to attain
 Choose something you are physically unable to do
 Expect change to be easy
 Proceed without a plan
 Give up too quickly; plans can be adjusted

Do:
 Set a small goal to begin and build from there
 Work on self-image; visualize yourself being a person who is successful at it
 Engage in deliberate self-talk like “I am choosing healthy behavior” and “I can do that”
 Work the resolution into your routine by connecting it to something you already do until it
becomes a daily, healthy habit
 Understand that even small increments of change are successes

No matter what type of change one is working on, a better chance at sustainability includes starting small, visualization, recognition that it can be accomplished and connecting it to something already present in one’s routine. Small steps become habits until the larger goal of living a healthier lifestyle is reached.

“Focus on one day at a time, one step at a time. Soon days turn into weeks and each
small step becomes a habit and helps you reach your larger goal. Remember doing something is better than doing nothing at all

Michelle Lucchesi, M.A., L.L.P., is a therapist at MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot’s Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization Program. To learn more about the program, call (989) 466-3253, or visit www.midmichigan.org/pphp.

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