Let’s resolve to go into our resolutions with enthusiasm instead of dread.
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It’s officially the season of positive personal change. It’s a great time of year with only one downfall—most people fail to turn resolutions into a long-term practice. Unfortunately, this lack of long-term follow through causes many to fall into the nasty world of self-blame, criticism, and even shame.
Those are pretty dreary places and I want to help you stay as far away from those psyche killers as possible. As a Psychologist and Strategic Coach, it is my job to take people from where they currently are to where they want to go—so let’s get it right in 2016, together. Here are some tips for making this year’s resolutions really stick.
1. Connect To The Big Picture
The most important thing for keeping any resolution is to look at why you are really doing it. What is the meaning behind the desired behavior change? In order to successfully break away from old habits, you have to want something else even more than the thing you are craving or the pattern that is already ingrained. It’s time to think about what you have to gain instead of what you have to lose.
If you want to lose weight or get a six pack, you have to understand why exactly you want it otherwise you are just operating superficially. Without understanding the motivating factors, the intention isn’t anchored to anything—it isn’t about becoming your highest, best version of yourself and it is less likely to stick because you aren’t thinking about the big picture and why it matters to you.
What is it that you want to happen beyond the weight loss, career change, or new routine?
What does it really mean for your overall life?
What is the end goal going to open up in your life?
What will it enable you to do, be, and feel?
Connecting into the big picture will make every moment of change mean something. It’s no longer about what you don’t want to be or do, but instead about manifesting positive personal growth and change for a big vision.
2. Time To Put The Adult In Charge
In the same way that you have had a set of parents or that you may be parenting your own children, there are times when you need to parent yourself. We each have two ways we can show up—standing with or laying down against our resolutions. When I visualize these two approaches in my mind, I see a tall-standing adult ready to take on the world and a small child lying beside them kicking and crying because they want ice cream.
It’s time to foster & create a relationship with your internal parent. Your adult self that has the ability to think long term about what’s best for you versus what will make you happy right now in this moment of craving or temptation. The emotional child in you is always thinking about the right now. It is up to you, your adult self, to stay strong against the tantrums of your emotional inner child in the moments of decision making and habit forming. It’s time to learn to side with your logical inner parent.
3. Be Kind To Yourself Through Moments Of Tension
Change is hard—be ready for the tension. There will inevitably be moments when you won’t want to make the decision that lines up with your end goals. When the tension rises let your adult self see you through. If you connect to your motives, it can hold you through the tension of changing habits and patterns by helping you to keep the bigger picture at play.
Create boundaries for yourself around your new goal and allow for the conditioning to take root. Change doesn’t happen overnight and your body and mind has to get used to your new choices. Until then, your default will be to act in the same way you have been acting. When the tension arises and you are tempted to make the same old choices remember that you are an adult and you can control your actions and behaviors in the same way you control your household, budget, or even car. You are in the drivers seat.
Be kind and patient with yourself in moments of tension in order to make lasting changes for your overall happiness. When moments of tension occur, give yourself a bit of compassion and talk to yourself like you would a close friend.
4. Celebrate Every Little Win
Patterns and habits are deeply ingrained in us. The body and mind are intricately connected and one supports and influences the other. The body defaults to what is comfortable and familiar often feeling like change is a threat. To change a habit or pattern you not only need to be consistent, but you also need to actually start getting the buy in from your physiology. When you give yourself real-time positive reinforcement, it elicits a reward-response in the brain.
Throw yourself a little congratulation party or give yourself a small, manageable reward every time you make a decision that helps you reach your resolution goals. You have to be your own reinforcer and your own cheerleader because only you are going to be there for every moment of positive will power. Maybe it’s time to break out a gold-star reward chart system from kindergarten—I’m not kidding.
When we add positive reinforcement to consistent new choices we actually begin to re-wire our hardware and create a new default setting. The more we celebrate the more natural and effortless your resolutions will become until it’s no longer a change, but instead your new normal.