Are you holding on to your New Year’s resolutions? Or have you already given up?
Here’s the trouble with New Year’s resolutions or any goal. We set ourselves up for failure by thinking the decision or act of starting is all that is needed.
It’s true that the decision to make a change is important. The amount of power you put behind it in terms of determination and being just plain fed up will be a major factor in whether you succeed. The deciding factor in whether you do is in understanding the process.
The process involves the changes that you must go through physically and psychologically as you move toward your goal. This includes withdrawal, gaining strength (physically and/or psychologically), and developing a new habit or routine.
Here’s a classic example. A person decides that they want to lose some weight and get fit so they join a health club. They wrongly believe that once they’ve made this commitment that the motivation to continue will be there. It will be there for a couple of weeks at best. How do I know that? I’ve seen it countless times at a health club I was a member of for many years before I built my home gym.
The membership drive would start right after Thanksgiving and run through the first few months of the new year. The strongest push would be in December and January when health club advertising would saturate all forms of media.
Then during the first few weeks of January, my health club would be jam-packed with new members making parking and working out a nightmare. The club was clearly over capacity but management knew from experience that it wouldn’t last long.
So what happens to those who quit? They didn’t give their bodies and mind time to adjust to the new activity and environment. Had they stuck with it, in a few weeks they would have been well on their way to creating a new habit and routine. In a few months, they’d feel right at home.
They didn’t anticipate the discomfort and awkwardness that they’d feel for a while. Our bodies and mind need time to adapt to the new demands that are being placed on them. All of this is normal. We go through this process with all new habits and routines.
If we are giving up a bad habit that involves a physical dependency like caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol the process will, of course, be more intense. But it is basically the same. We are changing our physical and psychological inputs, connections, and outputs. This requires some conscious effort on our part.
If we don’t persevere through the “growing” part of the process and give our body and mind time to adjust, both will just continue to operate as they always have. As conscious beings, we must take control.
We must gather information on what the process entails from multiple sources, pick out what resonates for us, identify meaningful reasons for the change, and create a vivid image of what we will attain. The most powerful forces I have found for change are (1) being fed up and (2) envisioning myself and my life as though I have already achieved the goal.
I mentioned gathering information from multiple sources for this reason. There are a lot of popular solutions to well-known problems in our society. I believe that many of those solutions have been installed in our social consciousness by way of advertising. And the internet has spread this information like a highly contagious virus.
For example, advertisers have created the notion that joining a health club, signing up for a diet program, or buying some workout device is the only way to successfully lose weight or get fit. Hogwash!
Through billions of dollars in advertising, pharmaceutical companies have convinced millions of people around the world that the solution to losing weight, giving up bad habits, defeating depression, and overcoming social anxiety is in a pill. This is bogus!
I encourage you to be skeptical of popular solutions. Look for new and innovative methods. Be wary of the old worn-out rehab programs, diet plans, and fitness products that many people grab onto because they are too lazy or lack the courage to do it on their own.
Identify some powerful reasons and inspiring outcomes for the changes you want to make. Then move toward and through your fear and the discomfort and awkwardness. Do this until you achieve your goal victoriously on “your” terms.
If you stumble and eat a cake, drink a bottle of wine, or smoke a pack of cigarettes, don’t give up! Just get right back on track the next day. Don’t look at this incident as one requiring that you start over. You’re not starting over. You’ve grown during the time you abstained. So just look at it as simply continuing on. Don’t start counting days either. That just keeps you feeling deprived and thinking about how far you need to go instead of the destination.