If you’ve realised that your resolutions for this year are pretty much the same as last year, you’ll understand that something needs to change.
The change must be in how you think.
The first thing I'd suggest is to change your language.
If you've made "resolutions" for years and years with little or no success, then you might already understand that even the word is pre-weighted with expectations which are hardly likely to spur you on. In your mind, resolutions might equate with failure, before you even start! Can I suggest calling them goals or intentions instead?
The resolutions most people make are often too binary to stick – I will lose some weight/ I will learn something / I will make more money, and often add to the pressure you feel in feel in either "succeeding" or "failing". This isn't helpful for the change you want to make. Binary challenges are demotivating when you have a slip- and the vast majority of us slip in the journey of making these new intentions our new habits. When you support wishes (for that’s what resolutions really are at heart) with some structured thinking it can help you get results that move you further towards your goals.
Firstly, it’s important to set goals that are achievable. You can do this by asking yourself three simple questions- What do you want to leave behind and why? What do you want to continue carrying forward because it is useful/helpful? What new things do you want to introduce or experience? (e.g. courses, hobbies, etc.)
When we know the “why?” we are more likely to commit and take action to achieve it. Here are a couple of examples:
Something to leave behind. Perhaps shed unwanted weight? – Why? Give yourself positive reasons – I will have fewer aches and pains, my clothes will fit better, my health will improve, I will have more energy and vitality to play with my kids, I will feel better altogether.
Something to carry forward. Perhaps selfcare strategies (stretching, meditation, etc)? Why? It allows me to improve my work/life balance, it encourages me to take time for myself, it prevents burnout, reminds me I am worth caring about.
Something new. Perhaps learning? Why? So I can help my customers/clients better, increase my qualifications, help me to progress in my career aspirations, create new connections with others who have similar interests.
Can you see that rather just say “I will lose unwanted weight/ I will practice selfcare/ I will devote time to learning” by telling yourself the WHYs of your intentions, then the HOWs (which are the next stage of the process) will come more easily and naturally to you.
Goals can be encouraged by creating timelines and milestones- deadlines for achievement of certain key stages of the goal, just as we do with our professional workloads, breaking them down and chunking time to ensure we keep on track. It’s exactly the same for our personal goals. But for personal goals we need to soften the timelines to understand they may need to be adjusted or extended. What’s really important is the trend in what you are changing, the average over a timeframe, not just one day where you just had a crappy day- as we all do. It's always important to remember that we are all human and not perfect. The understanding that we are moving in the right direction towards realising our goals is much more important than a slip day. We're still going in the right direction.
While many people know what actions they want to take, for others it might be a little more difficult to visualise or quantify what they'd like to change. If that includes you, here's another approach which may appeal - consider what positive qualities you want to develop, and which negative qualities to diminish. For example, you might realise that overwhelm has often caused you to say things to others that you later regretted. Therefore, you may wish to develop the quality of calmness, to help you stop and consider your words before replying, and to take steps towards being kinder and more thoughtful towards others and yourself. These reflections upon who you want to be, as well as what, can help support your growth towards the life you want, and not staying stuck with the life you’ve got.
Whether you’re establishing goals, improving behaviours or fostering better habits, may I wish you every success with your own new year changes.
And if you feel that you need any help with making progress this new year, I am available when you book a free Discovery Call with me.
Juan Carlos is a therapist and author with over 22 years' experience as a diagnostic scientist.
All blog entries are Copyright ©2019-2023 Juan Carlos Gouveia, All Rights Reserved.
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