At the start of every year, the air is abuzz with ambitious goals of self-improvement. Sadly, achievement often flutters away within a few weeks and many well-intentioned folks are left feeling discouraged and like a failure for not living up to their lofty new outlook. 
The desire for change and improvement is a good one! It is hard, though, to reach the new view if there isn’t a solid foundation to stand on. Without your feet strongly planted, the wind will inevitably blow good intentions away. 
So, if making grand resolutions often leaves us falling short, how do we make effective change in our lives? What does building a strong foundation entail? 
There are two main keys to success: Taking small, realistically do-able steps.  And, not waiting until the stars have aligned and all is perfect before you start. In fact – you don’t even need to wait for a new year to begin... You can set the wheels of change in motion at any time. 
With the two keys in place, it’s time to gather supplies for a well-made foundation. 
Organize: When we are surrounded by clutter and disorganization, it makes our goals harder to achieve.  Organization allows us to have clear and focused thinking... which is necessary for self-improvement.  Take some time to tidy up your environment as well as clearing clutter on your calendar and in your head.     
Create a Routine:  Having daily routines in place raises our baseline level of productivity, which, in turn, makes us feel successful.  Wake up at the same time each day. Make your bed. Get plenty of sleep. Create a meal plan and take a couple hours to make some meals ahead.  Whatever helps you create simplicity and a steady routine.  
Focus: Achieving any goal requires physical and mental energy. Our bodies and minds are our fuel tank – the better shape we are in, the more fuel we will have to achieve our goals. Be mindful about what you need to refuel... Give yourself a break with activities you enjoy and scheduling some down time.  Work transitions into your day... Allow 15 or 30 minutes between work and home so you can decompress from your busy day and mentally prepare for an evening with family. 
When you feel your foundation is solid, you can start implementing bigger goals. 

  • Create smaller, more realistic goals that work toward one main goal.
  • Work only on one or two goals at a time and break them down into achievable chunks
  • Keep a journal or weekly log of progress so you can monitor and rework goals as needed for success
  • Be prepared for set backs by writing down barriers you may encounter and create a contingency plan in case it just isn’t working.
  • Be accountable! Review your goals and progress with family, friends or a therapist who can support you
  • Celebrate your accomplishments along the way... even the small successes! 

As you’re moving forward, be sure to keep an eye on the foundation. If you find any cracks or feel unsettled, be sure to do repairs before continuing work on the bigger goals. 
Self improvement is an important part of life... don’t shy away from it! With a solid foundation in place, you’re ready for bigger and better things.   
If you feel like you’re having a difficult time laying your foundation on your own, it’s ok to call in some help!  Find an objective friend or family member to bounce thoughts, ideas and concerns off of. And, TrueNorth is always here to help as well. 

By: Nikki Miller, CHIPP Hanover Supportive Living 2/3 Residential Manager