Do you make resolutions for the New Year? I think of them more like goals, which prevents me from giving up at the first stumble. Making changes is challenging particularly when trying to shift a deeply embedded habit. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself more opportunities to succeed rather than looking for the first failure.
The key to making resolutions stick is to resolve the issues underneath, the stuff that drives the behavior, attitude, or habit you desire to change. Willpower will only take us part of the way to lasting changes – no, I will not bite my nails or have that food/drink or use my credit cards, or yes, I will go to the gym four times per week no matter what or I WILL focus on the positives in life or my personality. Willpower is a finite resource, so it wanes through the day. We’re most vulnerable to a willpower failure when we most need it – near the end of the day when we’re tired, when we’ve managed our issues all day, and now we’re ready to soothe ourselves.
Rather than white-knuckling our way through that need for soothing, what if we resolved the issues?
Identify the issue: What’s driving you to certain behaviors that don’t fit with who you want to be? So often those behaviors don’t actually make us feel better in the end, but they’re what we’ve always done when we feel this way. We’re lonely, so we have an extra glass (or two) of wine. We miss someone dear to us, so we have an extra serving of a food we associate with them. We’re anxious, so we bite our nails. Fill in your own blank. What’s the issue you need to sort out because it drives you to behaviors you no longer want? Hint: Be kind to yourself and choose ONLY one at a time.
How can you do something about the issue in a more positive and effective way? You know what hasn’t worked. What are alternatives? Brainstorm a few options. List sensible as well as crazy options — wisdom sometimes lies between the two.
What’s the smallest step you can take toward resolving the issue? Again, not a massive strategic plan – just one step. Then you can follow with another step, create that plan in manageable pieces.
What safeguards can you employ to help you succeed? Perhaps enlist a buddy who can encourage you and whom you can encourage. What structure will help you stay focused? Do you need a coach or counselor for a period of time to help you get started?
Can you believe you will succeed? If you don’t believe it, you are creating an uphill battle, so start with ways you can create a belief in your success.
As always, if you need some help, don’t hesitate to contact me. We CAN get you where you want to be.