Making Lifestyle Changes that Stick for 2020

lifestyle changes

2020 is officially here. It would be all too easy for us to re-adopt our annual cliché saying “new year, new me” mantra. Most of us will start our annual journey with expectations that are too lofty for us to stick with.

You are probably familiar with some of the common ones. Committing to going to the gym every day, or trying new trendy diets. Many of us will abandon these efforts as we lose interest, slip back into old habits, or simply because we no longer believe in the reason that we started.

What is the key to challenging your status quo?

What successes can you glean from your previous attempts, and your previous new year’s resolutions? How will this time be different? 

The phrase New Year’s resolutions is problematic. It implies that it is another attempt to get it right this year. In fact, adopting a new lifestyle aimed at improving your entire wellbeing is a more sustainable and long-lasting approach.

Additionally, it is important to have a kind, unconditional regard for yourself. Honor your previous new year’s attempts as wins. Learning takes place in these previous attempts. It is an opportunity to trial and correct (not trial and error) to find what works well for you. Being clear and honest with your expectations and committing to those achievable steps will enable you to reach a renewed sense of self through lifestyle change.

To begin this sustainable lifestyle change, identifying your cue, routine and reward is incredibly transformative.

In this instance, the cue is defined as an automatic trigger that tells your brain something to do. Some of these automatic habits can be helpful or derail our goals. Therefore, understanding your cues is very important to lifestyle change.

Once you understand what cues may exist for you, you can tailor an appropriate routine in response to the healthy cues and discard the unhealthier cues/routines.  The reward to new routines is only successful in supporting your lifestyle change if it is important to you. 

It is important to note that lifestyle change is difficult.

If it wasn’t, everyone would be their best selves.

A great way to achieve your best self is to know and use your support system. These are your friends, colleagues, family, gym buddies. Anyone can be a support as long as you identify them as your accountability partner. These are the folks with whom to celebrate your successes , action plan barriers, and check in with regularly. 

It’s also important to be aware of your potential maladaptive triggers and set up your environment to avoid them. It might be a matter of sleeping in your exercise clothes to make sure you have the best chance of going for that morning jog, or by meal prepping delicious and nutritious snacks to grab and go during the hectic weekday mornings.

Whatever works for you, commit to doing it and never look back. Put your self-care first in 2020.

Greg Lamoy is an Employee Wellness Health Coach at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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