Ten best ways to fail may help you succeed.
It's exactly three weeks since the New Year started. You've had 21 days to work on your resolutions. How's it going?
If you're like most people, you may be running into some resistance. You might have even given up already. I hope not.
In more than 20 years at Serenity Lane, I've been fortunate to be part of the lives of thousands of people who have made lasting changes. When they don't succeed, it seems like there are at least 10 reasons why. We might call them the `10 best ways to fail." Any sound familiar?
1. They try to be perfect. Treatment professionals, nutritionists and coaches of all kinds know that very few people make major lifestyle changes without some setbacks.
2. They set unreasonable goals. When we have weight to lose, a few pounds at a time is the only way it's going to happen. For addictions, focusing on being sober today works best. Big goals are achievable, but they happen only one step at a time, one day at a time.
3. If they're dieting, they weigh themselves every day. Because healthy weight loss occurs slowly, daily weigh-ins ensure that they'll be frustrated, discouraged or downright depressed when things don't go as fast as they'd like.
4. They focus on what they're missing, not on their successes. Celebrating the small successes becomes the motivation for setting - and achieving - new goals.
5. They stay around people who aren't changing for the better, and expect their family to give wholehearted support. The reality is that friends and family often are threatened by the changes we make - even positive ones.
6. They expect to always feel good about their changes. Initially, we all have enthusiasm about a healthier lifestyle. But giving up destructive patterns involves some sense of loss. It also exposes the uncomfortable feelings that got us into the behaviors in the first place. A few weeks into a new program, the discomfort can go way up.
7. They try to go it alone. Each of the 10 ways can lead to failure by itself - but this one especially so. Real, lasting changes just can't be made alone.
8. They convince themselves that the discomfort they're feeling will last forever. The truly frightening thing about this one is that if we spend time dwelling on it, we will fail. Our fears will have become a reality.
9. They get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Changing bad habits requires faith, courage and patience. Failing to take care of these basics undermines all three.
10. They refuse to give up current activities to make room for better ones. A great way to fail is to pile on things to do without giving up anything. As in not giving up an extra hour at work or an hour in front of the TV for a sensible exercise program.
If you're having trouble, you're probably doing one or more of these things.
The good thing to know, however, is that they're optional. If we're aware of them, we can do something different. We'll then have a much better chance of getting what we want - and becoming who we want to be.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer. As Serenity Lane's statewide coordinator of employer services, Jerry Gjesvold helps companies across Oregon create and manage their drug-free workplace policies and programs. More information is available on the Serenity Lane Web site at www.serenitylane .org.