Creating a New Years Resolution that Sticks
I got such a good response to my recent business change announcement that I thought I would start my blogging early! With the popular topic of…
NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
Personally, I don’t set them. Not in the traditional sense anyways. I tend to opt for introducing changes to my life whenever I feel they’re needed. I used to be an avid believer/setter of new years resolutions though – from getting a summer body, quitting alcohol, junk food, or coffee, to quitting being treated like crap, etc. So I know a thing or two about why these kinds of ‘resolutions’ don’t work.
As much as we want them to, patterns and behaviours don’t go away just because we decided. They are way more complex than that.
So why don’t they work?
In short, we are highly programmable and habitual beings that act unconsciously, most of the time. We are the result of everything that we have witnessed and experienced throughout our lives up until this point. The habits and behaviours we exhibit are ingrainedin us. Yes we can choose to change, but without the right approach our mind and body just goes on with the same old pattern it is used to.
We often get insights about what we want to change. They’re like visions toward a more powerful, wholesome you. That’s all they are though. these insights are not powerful enough to make us actually change. They are there to plant the seed.
True change requires effort, persistence, self-awareness, and patience.
Lets take the ‘I will never drink alcohol again’resolution as an example;
You set the intention to change your habit of consuming alcohol. You have identified that you’re using it to calm down or numb, and you don’t want to do that anymore. You are tired of being that person who relies on a drink, and want more self-control.
1st January passes, and you succeeded! Good job.
2nd January passes, and you succeeded again! Even better 😉
3rd January passes, and maybe the 4th, 5th, 6th. Still going strong.
As you continue with it, you begin to feel a little restless. You’re not feeling great. It’s Saturday night, your friends are drinking, and you don’t want to be left out. Maybe you had a fight with a significant person in your life and you’re struggling to settle the emotional stress that lingers on afterwards.
You think, to hell with it! I love alcohol, alcohol loves me, everyone else is doing it and I’m not technically an alcoholic, so – it’s okay. You justify to yourself why this needs to be a part of your life again, instead of sticking it out for the long haul like you promised.
Once the initial drink wares off, you’re disappointed. Why cant you do anything right?
Because the alcohol, just like every other habitual behaviour or addiction has an emotional connection along with it. Whether it’s belonging, numbing, relaxing, feeling like a queen, avoiding boredom, it doesn’t matter. There is an emotionalreason behind your need for alcohol, and your body/mind will make an excuse to bring it back in.
Unless you deal with the emotion, or the reason you’re doing what you’re doing,you will constantly revert back to it, justify sabotaging it, and go back to your old ways. You’ll still feel bad about it on some level, but you’ll wait until the next significant time or date, before you decide to try again.
So the key to understand here is that your emotions drive your choices, and they are more powerful than your decision to change.
What’s the solution?
The first and most powerful way to approach a resolution is….. DRUMROLL…. to deal with the emotion head on. Given the fact that this is a confronting idea and out of my scope of practice, I’m going to suggest a method that is much more practical.
I recommend that you choose a theme, or statement for the New Year, and nut out some practical ways to approach it. So here is how that works;
STEP 1: Choose a theme
A theme is like a blanket-statement, written as a commitment to yourself. It can be as broad or specific as you like. Here are some examples;
- “I commit to finding two things that I am really good at this year”
- “I commit to taking good care of myself”
- “I commit to finding a new career path”
- “I commit to engaging in frequent physical activity”
- “I commit to educating myself about self-love and self-mastery”
- “I commit to making time for myself and learning more about who I am”
- “I commit to making new friendships with people who _________”,
- “I commit to embracing all aspects of myself without fear” (that’s my one for 2020)
Overthinking it? Simply put, your theme should be whatever floats your boat and bugs you the most about yourself.From here, you need to set some clear boundaries about how that may look. So taking the example of ‘I commit to taking good care of myself’. Here’s how it looks;
STEP 2: Write down your ‘WHY’ * This is the most important step *
If you have no reason for the goal that comes with an emotional drive, there is no reason to change. Your why should be the emotional benefit that you gain by honouring your commitment to yourself.
STEP 3: Write down all the ways in which you believe you aren’t doing this.
- I eat takeaway every night.
- I am constantly exhausted but haven’t looked further into it
- All my friends are into partying, and aren’t healthy
- I am dependent on coffee.
These are just examples, but write down literally everythingyou do, that you feel is incongruent to the statement ‘I take good care of myself’. Make sure you write down what youwant, not what you think it should look like.
STEP 4: Brainstorm the things you can introduce into your life to counteract these incongruent habits you have
- I will eat home-cooked dinners 4 nights per week
- I will see a health practitioner once per month and implement what I can in relation to my fatigue
- I will seek out new friendships with those who are interested in health and fitness
- I will limit cut my coffee consumption back by 1 shot per day.
STEP 5: Assess whether they are achievable, and come up with a game plan!
Grab your list of commitments, and ask yourself, as you go down them individually, if they feel achievable for you. If they don’t, or they feel too full on, then reduce them a little. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Remember if they intimidate you, they’re probably good choices. Change is nevercomfortable
You may need to enlist the support of a friend, your family, a professional, or sign-up to a group, etc. Do whatever you need to do to get the ball rolling.
So that’s it. You need to spend a little time on it, but it’s sure to get you headed in the right direction.
Why this method works;
- It’s positive, and all change requires a positive drive.
- It’s not too specific – there is room for movement and growth
- You’re likely not to fail, thus avoiding the ‘I’m useless’ trap
- You can approach it with bite-size chunks depending on your comfort and speed
- You can revisit it throughout the year, add more commitments underneath it, or change directions where needed.
Word of warning:Don’t get caught up thinking that if you don’t commit to ‘quitting’ a bad habit cold turkey that it won’t go away. Small steps towards change allow the process to occur more organically. You let go completely when you’re ready, rather than ripping off the band-aid in one go.
So, that’s it! Sorry its not an easy solution. True change is never easy!
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