How’s it going with your New Year’s Resolutions? Did you attempt to lose those last 20 pounds, quit smoking or get organized? The Top Ten list of New Year’s Resolutions does not seem to change much over the years, which means that many people keep trying over and over again. Setting goals and following through is hard any time of the year, right?
Within a few weeks of making a change – definitely for good this time! – four out of five people get so stressed out about sticking to their plan that giving up seems to be the best option.
The model of Positive Stress Management by Dr. N. Peseschkian, an Iranian psychiatrist, offers some insight into the problems and solutions to this dilemma. His approach shows that an individual’s well-being is dependent on the four pillars of his/her life being in balance. Dr. Peseschkian defines those four pillars as Personal, Social, Success and Intuition. The personal pillar describes how we see ourselves and others, the social pillar refers to the relationships we have with others and how we interact with the world around us; the success pillar is what drives us – ambition, diligence and work habits. Finally, the intuition pillar contains our dreams and wishes, goals and beliefs.
According to Dr. Peseschkian, the four pillars – or areas – of our lives need to be in balance, otherwise we experience stress. Therefore, if a change we want to implement means a radical change in our habits and behavior, the areas are not in balance anymore and our bodies and minds will work towards restoring it. That’s why giving up seems like such a good idea after a few weeks…
Does this mean that all attempts at changing your lifestyle are futile? Not at all! The key to success is considering the balance in your life when setting your goals.
Here is one example – and the principle applies to any goal you might want to set: If you love to go out for dinner with your friends but want to lose weight, don’t punish yourself by not going out anymore. Instead, find a way to incorporate more exercise into your life and eat healthier on the days you eat at home. This way you will still have balance in your social life, while working on a goal that can be incorporated into your lifestyle.
Check how your goals will affect the different parts of your life, and then adjust your strategy. You’ll get it right this time!
Kerstin Auer runs a freelance writing business at auerfreelance.com.