Positive Change Starts with “Just this Once!”

Here we are in February and for many of us, those New Years’ resolutions to make positive lifestyle changes have fallen by the wayside. Why?! You may be familiar with the phrase “Just this once, won’t hurt.” Have you found yourself muttering this to yourself lately? It usually happens when you’re tired, or in a time crunch, maybe lacking motivation, or generally feeling overwhelmed. This thought is usually connected to the uncomfortable feelings of change. But change is good, right?

Speed Bumps That Derail Progress

Sometimes there’s a feeling of discomfort or inconvenience of new lifestyle changes, it may be because you feel deprived, resentful about missing out on that dessert, or having to go for that walk or workout when you’re tired. Maybe you feel conflicted about making time to meditate when what you think you need to do is check those emails and texts. You may doubt your ability to change. You hear that little negative voice inside saying, “This is just not possible. You never could do it before… What makes you can do it now? You have other things to do that are more important.” Breaking your commitment, “just this once,” feels like a small consequence, maybe even a relief. It’s not that big of a deal, right? You just want to give in at that moment — so you do. If you aren’t careful, this kind of thinking can go from a one-time occurrence to a trend, then a pattern quickly. Suddenly your new lifestyle change is off track.

Get Back on Track

There is another way to look at change. You can reverse your thinking. Decide, “Just this once I will make the better choice.” Stop entertaining that negative inner voice and tell yourself: “Today I am eating the salad instead of the burger, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, say “yes” to meditation instead of email; just show up on the sidewalk and walk — just this once.” Why? Because you feel better after the salad, taking the steps or doing the workout. You’re calmer, more focused, and clear-headed after meditation. Those are the rewards you experience. Focus on them.

We all falter; that’s normal. Stop; recognize the thoughts and feelings tripping you up. Decide how to deal with and avoid those pitfalls the next time. Forgive yourself. It’s about progress, not perfection. Get back on track. Research shows that if you stay focused on the rewards, you make better choices. Every good choice you make strengthens your ability to make the next good choice. Tracking your progress is another way to help you make positive changes. Before you know it, you’re more confident and decisive in your ability to make changes count. I’d write more, but instead I’ll take a 5-minute break and stretch…just this once. What about you?