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The start of a new year is often the time when we consider making change in our lives. Whether you call think in terms of resolutions, goals or intentions, the question remains – how can I be a successful change agent? Psychologists who study behavior change provide the following suggestions.

  • Ask yourself if you really want to make the change, or if it is something you feel you should do, or are supposed to do. To set yourself up for success, be sure this is something you actually want to do.
  • Put your intention in writing. Keep the following in mind:
    • Make it as specific as you can: What is it you actually want to accomplish
    • Give it an expiration date: By (insert date), I will (insert specific goal)
    • Break it down: State broader goal (outcome), supported by small steps you will take along the way to accomplish (process goals)
    • Keep it positive: “I will snack on whole, plant based foods”, rather than “I will stop eating cookies.”

Asking yourself the following questions will give you clarity on what you really want to accomplish. Take some time to reflect and jot down your answers.

  • Imagine it is the end of 2021 and you have accomplished your goal – how does it feel?
  • How would accomplishing your goal benefit others?
  • What would be helpful to you in reaching your goal? Do you need a schedule? An accountability buddy?

A critical last piece of advice – Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. While some attribute this statement to Voltaire, it remains unclear who originally offered this wisdom. When seeking to start something new, many agree perfectionism is their worst enemy. Don’t wait until you can do it perfectly, just start. It’s okay to take small steps and learn by trial and error.