making positive changes

Making Positive Changes: 5 Ways That Work (and 3 That Don’t)

This article was last updated on April 18, 2022

December is a month of reflection for many people as the year comes to an end. We begin to look forward to the upcoming year and create resolutions in hopes of bettering our lives. Try using these five tips to ensure that you’re successful in making positive changes.

 5 Ways That Work…

Address the Habit You Want to Change

Whenever we try to make changes in our lives, sometimes we get sidetracked by other things that we want to change, resulting in overload. Instead, we should address the habit clearly that we want to work on and focus on that alone until we accomplish it, and then move onto the next thing that we wish to change.

Keep Yourself From Getting Too Excited

It’s actually surprisingly great to hold back some of your excitement to change so you don’t get burned out too quickly. For example, if you’re really excited to start working out and you push yourself too hard at once, you’ll burn yourself out and you won’t be able to maintain your motivation.

Be Mindful

Bad habits are sometimes done absentmindedly. For instance, maybe you’re watching TV and you start biting your nails. If you want to change that habit, make sure you are mindful to where your hands are at all times so you won’t have the urge to bite your nails. After doing this for a while, you’ll stop doing things absentmindedly and you’ll begin to break your habit

Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is a classic case of positive reinforcement. Every time you make a breakthrough with your resolution, reward yourself for it. If you’re eating healthy, reward yourself with frozen yogurt. If you lost a few pounds after exercising diligently, buy yourself a new outfit. Whatever your goal is, rewarding yourself for improving will give you the motivation to continue.

Create a Trial Time Frame

The first week of making a change in your life will be the hardest, but the next two aren’t going to be easy, either. I’ve always been told that it takes about three weeks to make something a habit. Try working on the change for three weeks. If you can do it, then you’ll most likely be able to stick with it for a longer period of time.


It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of having resolutions but then get discouraged because something doesn’t immediately go the way it’s supposed to. Don’t get discouraged because you’re making changes ineffectively. Here are three methods of making changes that aren’t as effective as you’d think.

… And the Three That Don’t

Keeping Your Changes to Yourself

Sometimes people like to keep their resolutions to themselves to surprise their friends and family when they’ve successfully made a change, but this can actually lead to failure. Sharing your resolutions and the positive changes that you’re making can actually help you stick to it, even if you’re only telling a few people. Once you’ve told others, it will make your commitment more real and you’re more likely to keep trying, even if it gets tough to manage. Plus, you’ll have a great support system that will be cheering you on every step of the way.

Quitting Cold Turkey

When it comes to changing behaviors, “slow and steady wins the race.” It’s great to realize you need to make a change in your lifestyle, but studies show that quitting cold turkey on whatever habit you wish to change isn’t the way to do it. It’ll be harder for you to stop your bad habit because you’ll go through withdrawal, and you’ll lose the willpower to continue without the habit.

Attempting Too Many Resolutions at Once

There may be many aspects of your life that you want to change, but trying to do them all at once will only lead to frustration and a lack of focus. It’s OK to have a lot of resolutions, but make sure you tackle one at a time in order to accomplish them.

Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other

 Don’t be afraid to take your time making these changes. Moving too fast will only slow you down in the long run. Always remind yourself of what your goal is and reward yourself when you get one step closer to keeping positive changes in your life.

Photo credit: Jasmine Bailey

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