Go from New Year’s to a New YOU!
How to make a change when you’re stuck in a rut
Just a week left to 2014. The New Year is looming, and to many, that means saying goodbye to the end of one year and embracing the next with a mixture of anticipation and, sometimes, a bit of fear. The start of something new can be a scary thing. But it can also be exciting! This could be the last week of old habits that have held you back. It could be the last week of bad relationships, toxic friendships, jobs that don’t fulfill you and all the not-so-great lifestyle choices that haven’t served you well. Maybe this is the year you’ll finally stop smoking, or drunk dialing your ex... Maybe you want to switch careers or go back to school? You may already have some idea of who you want to be or where you want to go, but, how can you change gears and switch tracks? Here’s a few things you can do to take your New Year’s resolutions from a wish to a reality...
NEW YEAR’S GOAL: Switch Careers
If recent studies are right, more than 80% of workers today want out of their jobs. So, at least you’re not alone. Here are some ways to change paths without going astray...
DO change careers Before you grow to Hate your current Job
“Don’t wait until you are desperately unhappy in your current situation to make change”, says Kathy Caprino, career coach and author of Breakdown, Breakthrough. “And definitely don’t leap before you’ve improved your situation. Repair broken relationships, build more respect, and find your voice...Then, when you do leave...you’ll have made a clear, rational decision that will move you forward successfully.”
DO plan Ahead
Before you hit ‘send’ on that resignation email, develop asound financial plan that will support your career change, suggests Caprino. “Folks come to me wanting a change, but have no available money – either in the bank or accessible through other avenues – to make that change. They simply don’t know or haven’t researched how long their transition will take, and they don’t have the funds to support them.” Do some solid research and explore your desired career change. Find out what it will take to support you through this transition, especially if you’re considering going back to school. Career transitions can take years, especially if your goal is unrelated to your current work experience. So, if you don’t have the means, you may have to wait until you can access some more money, either through borrowing, saving or by using your yearly bonus.
DO keep the End goal in Mind
Alan Kearns, head coach of CareerJoy -- a Canadian career coaching company offering career identification, transition and search services, has some good advice for people wanting to switch careers.Before you even open those classifieds, he says there’s some basics you need to know. Think about the type of job you want and ask yourself some important questions, such as:
• What is your ideal work schedule?
• Where, physically, do you want to work?
• How much do you want to earn?
These will help you pinpoint your ideal job match and will also give you some idea of the types of jobs that will suit your personality and your work style.
DON’T be a Homebody. Network!
Get out from behind that computer and make some face-to-face contacts. People in your network can be invaluable job search tools. They can give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network. You can also broaden your network by joining professional organizations and by contacting alumni from your college who are working in the field you want to enter. Focus about 30 per cent of your job search efforts on "public" positions -- those posted in want ads or on job boards -- and spend the rest of your time exploring opportunities you find through research and networking.You never know when a casual conversation can turn into a hot job lead!
DON’T give up too Quickly
Changing your life isn’t always as instant as your morning coffee and most people fail because they simply throw in the towel too quickly. “You can’t make a life or career change without significant effort, time and commitment,” says Caprino. “I’m stunned when people expect major change to happen overnight – or within a few months. They’re so eager (or desperate) to leave behind what’s made them miserable, that they simply can’t tough it out long enough to get to the destination they want.” But, don’t be in such a rush! Rome wasn’t built in a day. To design the life you really want, it takes time and persistence, so don’t get discouraged if your first few attempts don’t pan out. Just dust yourself off and try again.
DON’T stop looking even if you like your Job
Just because you’re happy in your current work, doesn’t mean you can’t keep your eye out for something else. Don’t wait until you’re totally miserable to make a change. Too often, job searches are a reaction to a bad work experience, and we end up fleeing from one bad job to another in our haste to get away. Instead, keep that resume regularly updated and watch out for golden opportunities that could help you advance. Then, if you find yourself tempted by another offer, carefully weigh how good you've got it with how good you could have it, and if the grass is truly greener, maybe it’s the right time to make a change.
NEW YEAR’S GOAL: Stop a Bad Habit
You may smoke, chew your nails or maybe you, ah, um...yeah... procrastinate! Well, get a better handle on those nasty bad habits with these helpful steps:
DO some investigation
The first step is to figure out when -- and why -- you bite your nails, crack your knuckles, or engage in any other bad habit. "If you can notice when you are doing it and under what circumstances and what feelings are attached to it, you might be able to figure out why you are doing it and be able to stop," says Susan Jaffe, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City. Then, “log it," says Janet L. Wolfe, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of several books including What to Do When He Has a Headache. “This will help you establish a baseline,” she says. "Also put down the emotions surrounding the bad habit (such as knuckle cracking), and what goes through your head when you [engage in that behaviour]. This will make your bad habit more conscious." Wolfe suggests keeping the log for at least a week. Then, analyze the data and look at what your usual triggers are.
DO steer clear of temptation
Many things can act as a ‘trigger’, calling you back to your old habits: stress, a major life change such as losing a job or a loved one, and other circumstances that will have you reaching for that cigarette you swore to never touch again. One of the best ways to avoid falling back into a bad habit is to “avoid the situations in which you usually do your bad habit,” explains Dr. Arthur B. Markman, author of Five Ways to Break a Bad Habit. That even means avoiding certain people, if they influence you in negative ways. “People are an important part of our environment, and they have a huge influence on our behavior,” says Dr. Markman. “Research has even shown that if your friends are overweight, then chances are you will be overweight as well.” If boredom or stress is a major trigger for your bad habits, you need to have a plan ahead of time for how you will respond. What are you going to do when you get the urge to smoke? Maybe do some deep breathing or chew a piece of gum. What are you going to do when you find yourself procrastinating again? Set a timer for 1 hour of dedicated work time and then allow yourself a ‘play time’ break afterwards. Whatever it is and whatever you're dealing with, if you want to avoid that behaviour, have a plan for what you will do instead of your bad habit.
DO replace a Bad Habit with a Good One
“Not all situations can be avoided,” admits Dr. Markman. For example, “if you often smoke at work, then you cannot stop working just so that you can quit smoking. If you bite your nails in bed, you can't stop going to sleep.” There will be certain situations where a trigger simply cannot be avoided or removed. So, what can you do when avoidance isn’t an option? “When you cannot change the environment,” explains Dr. Markman, “you can try to replace a behavior (say, biting your nails) with no behavior (not biting your nails). [But,] It’s hard to learn to do nothing,” he admits. His suggestion? “If you are trying to quit biting your nails, try another behavior instead. If you bite your nails in bed, then try doing something else that will keep your hands busy. For example, you could give yourself a manicure before bed, or maybe do a crossword puzzle before going to sleep. Eventually, you will start to learn to link a new behavior to the old cues. That is, by replacing your bad behavior with a good one, you will eventually create a good habit where there was only a bad one before.”
DON’T get impatient with yourself
Changing old behaviours can be tough and it won’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Remember that overcoming a bad habit takes time. “It probably took a while to develop the bad habit,” says Dr.Markman. “You shouldn't think that it will go away quickly. [But,] each time that you are in a situation where you used to do your bad habit and you don't, you are one step closer to breaking that habit.” Slip-ups will also happen and that’s normal. Studies suggest that it can take up to 7 tries to finally quit a bad routine or habit. “You might slip every once in a while,” says Dr.Markman. “[But don’t] beat yourself up.” We all get off track. But, what separates top performers from everyone else is that they get back on track very quickly. “Just work at making the good behaviors happen more often than the bad ones,” says Dr.Markman. “The more this happens, the weaker the bad habit will get over time.”
DON’T do it Alone
Enlist your friends to help you change! Often, when we want to change a bad habit, we don't really tell anyone about it. Maybe you’re afraid to admit that you’re not exactly perfect? Or maybe you’re scared that if you announce your intentions to the world, and fail, people might think less of you. But, think about the positives of getting your friends involved! Think about the powerful influence other people have on your behavior. There are many things you might be willing to do when you’re alone, but not when you’re with others. Bring other people with you in situations where you usually do your bad habit, and if they can’t go along, have a few people that you can call to talk to by phone if you feel the urge to slip. Or buddy up with a friend who has similar goals, and that way, the two of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your victories together. Have a ready, 24/7, network of support and they can cheer you on and hold you to your goals.
DON’T think that you need to Change Everything Just to achieve your Goal
Just because you want to change one aspect of your life doesn’t mean an entire ‘life overhaul’ is required. You don’t need to change towns, give away all your possessions or run to a monastery to become a better person and you don't need to be someone else to break a bad habit. Just be clear about what you want to accomplish, then make a plan with both short-and long-term goals and celebrate your victories, no matter how small. And be realistic when you make your plan. “We often think that to break our bad habits, we need to become an entirely new person,” explains life strategist and writer, James Clear. “The truth is that you already have it in you to be someone without your bad habits. You don't need to quit smoking, you just need to return to being a non-smoker. You don't need to transform into a healthy person, you just need to return to being healthy. Even if it was years ago, you have already lived without this bad habit, which means you can most definitely do it again.” - And you can still be you when all is said and done!
NEW YEAR’S GOAL: Rid yourself of a toxic relationship or friendship
You know that relationship that makes you feel consistently bad about yourself? You may find yourself fending off subtle jabs or downright insults, dealing with unreliability or perhaps even deceit. A toxic relationship leaves you feeling anxious, unrewarded and unaccepted, but here’s how to get out when your relationship goes from sweet to sour:
DO Distance yourself
It can be difficult, ending a relationship, and it can be especially painful when you can no longer contact the person or go to places where you used to hang out. But, trust us, you don’t want to get sucked back into the relationship once you’re out. Bad relationships can be like an addiction- you have to cut it out clean and avoid your ‘triggers’ to keep from falling back. Delete the person from your phone list and all social media and avoid ‘creeping’ on them by checking on their Facebook status every other day. “In essence — disappear,” suggests Dr. Sherrie Campbell, author and licensed Psychologist with more than nineteen years of clinical training and experience. “Our exes may try to get in touch right away, but at least 6 months of total silence should happen before resuming contact, if at all.” This time is needed for healing and for adjusting to your new situation. “Contact within the first 6 months will only set both of you back,” says Campbell. “It’s ok to have a love for this person, but we have to accept that we have chosen to move on.”
DO Work Up your Courage
It takes a lot of courage to leave a relationship that isn’t working out and it can mean a big change in the way you live your life. All of us love stability and take comfort in the familiar, but just because you’re getting used to a certain routine doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for you. Yes, you may get lonely, for the first little while. Prepare yourself for the pain and the loneliness, because they will factor in, especially if you still have love for this person. But, this is a time for bravery. Don’t stick with something just because you fear the alternative. You’ll never really know what life has in store for you unless you take that chance and step out into the unknown.
DO make peace with Your Decision to End It
Own the decision you made and stick to it. Don’t berate yourself with regretful feelings. Yes, ending a relationship can be long and painful. It's not easy to do it alone. But ultimately the decision to end a relationship is yours, and succumbing to pressure from those around you is unlikely to last very long. When all else fails, sometimes it helps to step back and ask yourself, point blank, what do you really want? If you’re unsure, write a list of your reasons to quit this person and if the negatives outweigh the positives, you have your answer. Then, once you end that relationship, if you need a reminder of why you left, look at your list and it will ensure you don’t backtrack on your decision. Have a good support team as well, so when you have those occasional pangs of regret, you have a ready shoulder to cry on and won’t be tempted to call your ex.
DON’T confuse addiction for Love
We often say that we can’t live without someone and sometimes a relationship CAN seem like an addiction, especially when you return time and time again to the same toxic or abusive relationship. Neurochemically speaking, love and addiction are very similar and it can sometimes be tricky to distinguish one from the other. “But even if love has some addiction-like qualities, healthy love is likely to involve other qualities as well, such as respect, trust, and commitment,” explains Juliana Breines, Ph.D., author of In Love and War. “Addictive love, by contrast, tends to be more singularly focused on attaining those "highs," whatever the cost.” If you are trying to break free from a bad relationship, especially if it feels more like an addiction than a loving bond, she suggests reframing your thoughts and emotions about that person. Try to view them objectively, as if you were studying them. Do a clear, honest assessment of what they bring to your life and note the pros and cons of your relationship. Be brutally honest about whether that relationship is working out for you. That way, you gain a better perspective of that person and it sets up a healthy distance between you and your partner.
DON’T fall Prey to Cognitive Dissonance
Ever wonder why you keep returning to the same bad relationship or toxic friendship? Cognitive Dissonance could be to blame. When our minds have sneaky way of justifying our actions, that’s cognitive dissonance. When we tell ourselves stories or lies so that we never have to feel like we did something stupid or made a mistake, that’s- well- you get the picture. This is the reason why we tend to be more loyal to groups that we suffered to get into (e.g., a fraternity with intense hazing). It is also one of the reasons why it's so hard to break free from a bad relationship or friendship, especially when we've been in one for a long time. Unless a relationship suddenly takes a turn for the worst, ending it often means coming to terms with the fact that, for a long time, we didn't end it, and that was a mistake. If you can't come to terms with your own mistakes, you might justify staying in that relationship, just to avoid the embarrassment of having to say ‘I was wrong.’ Be aware of the way your mind can play tricks on you and you can better avoid this common trap.
DON’T leave false hope
If healing is to occur, it needs to be a clean break- think about Band-Aids and how it hurts much less if you just lift them off in one good pull. Don’t think you can ‘phase out’ a breakup or gradually remove yourself, it just isn’t healthy. The resulting ‘grey area’ just leaves everyone hurt, especially the person who still wants the relationship. If we really love ourselves and have love and respect for our partner, we will make the breakup black and white so everyone can heal. Yes, you may have to deal with the discomfort of your partner’s reaction. They may take the news with a mixture of shock, questioning, anger or begging. It won’t be pretty. But, don’t give them false hope. Hope is like any other drug, it can take us out of reality and leave us stuck in fantasy, which is not a good place to be. Give your partner or friend the last courtesy of a clean break and they will eventually get over the hurt and will hopefully move on.
Well, those are just some ways to ring in the New Year...
If you’ve managed to make a change for the better, then we cheer your victory!
So, here’s to the upcoming Year! And here’s to a better, more beautiful YOU!
Happy Holidays from the Élan Beauty Team!
Sources: (Images, from Top to Bottom: Rachel Titiriga via Flickr, Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Flickr, Morgan via Flickr, Alice Carrier via Flickr, woodleywonderworks via Flickr, Helga Weber via Flickr)
- The 5 Biggest Mistakes Career Changers Make By Kathy Caprino; forbes.com; url: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2012/04/14/the-5-biggest-mistakes-career-changers-make/
- 10 tips for making a successful career change - A career coach gives advice to help you land your dream job By Tudor Robins; Canadian living magazine online; url: http://www.canadianliving.com/life/work/10_tips_for_making_a_successful_career_change.php
- The 10 Best Times to Switch Jobs By Jada A. Graves; US News; url: http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/slideshows/the-10-best-times-to-switch-jobs
- The 10-Step Plan to Career Change: How to Successfully Change Careers By Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. url: http://www.quintcareers.com/career_change.html
- How To Change Career When You Have No Idea What You're Doing; Career Shifters Job Site; url : http://www.careershifters.org/expert-advice/how-to-change-career-when-you-have-no-idea-what-youre-doing#ixzz3MVQo2jJy
- 3 Easy Steps to Breaking Bad Habits By Denise Mann; WebMD Feature; url: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/3-easy-steps-to-breaking-bad-habits
- Five Ways to Break a Bad Habit By Dr. Art Markman; Dr.Phil online; url: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/548
- How to Break a Bad Habit (And Replace It With a Good One) By James Clear;Huffington Post; url: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/breaking-habits_b_3540148.html
- How to Break Bad Habits By Stephanie Abramson; real simple.com; url: http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/how-to-break-bad-habits
- How to End a Bad Relationship for Good By Juliana Breines;Psychology Today; url: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-love-and-war/201303/how-end-bad-relationship-good
- Seven Steps You Must Take Once a Relationship Goes Bad By Guest Contributor Dr. Sherrie Campbell, Licensed Psychologist;Eharmony.com; url: http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/seven-steps-you-must-take-once-a-relationship-goes-bad/#.VJZgRV4BA
- How to Let Go of a Relationship That’s Bad; Lovepanky.com; url: http://www.lovepanky.com/my-life/relationships/how-to-let-go-of-a-relationship
- Learn to recognize the signs of a bad relationship, plus how to move on and seek emotional support if you're involved in one By Gehna Singh;Canadian Living Magazine;url: http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/love_and_romance/how_to_let_go_of_a_toxic_relationship.php
- How to Gracefully Get Out of a Bad Friendship By Karen Kleinschmidt, Demand Media; Global Post; url: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/gracefully-out-bad-friendship-13343.html