Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work...
and more importantly, the 3 simple steps that make them work
How many times have you heard someone say that this is going to be the year they make it happen?
How many times have you said that very same thing?
And they meant it. You meant it. You really really wanted it.
It didn't happen. Why?
If you ask people about New Year's Resolutions you will stir some strong opinions and emotions. Anywhere from "They're stupid!" to "This year things have GOT to change!!".
My favorite is "I'm sick and tired of the same ol' same ol'."
New Year's Resolutions represent a poignant, marked moment in the clicking over from this number to the next. It says that one is gone, you can't have it back. You are a year older. Is this all it's gonna be for the rest of my life?
But it's a marked moment because of the decisive change of a number that's keeping track of our time. And it places, front and center, the questions: Are you going to change what you don't like? Do you believe you can do it? Do you believe in yourself?
You've tried to change before and you didn't do it. Why would now be any different?
A better question is: What's the real reason why I stopped?
If you continued with the behavior to get what you wanted, you would have more than likely had it. Right?
So why DID you stop the behavior?
1. It was too uncomfortable and
2. You didn't expect that level of discomfort for that long
3. You convinced yourself that your effort wasn't worth it. That your efforts were a waste of your time.
It wasn't that you weren't succeeding. You were. It's just at some point you decided that the success you were getting wasn't worth the discomfort you were going through. So you quit.
Or more likely, you began to talk yourself into quitting until you finally came up with a good reason justifying your decision to quit; and then you quit, because that made it feel better.
Until next year rolls around.
You allowed your focus to shift from what you wanted (your goal) to what you didn't want (being uncomfortable and wasting your efforts and time).
Most of us do this.
The 3 Simple Steps to making that resolution stick.
1. Get a VERY clear vision for what you want.
2. Decide what you're willing to do and sacrifice to get it.
3. Learn the art of shifting your focus (What??, I thought you were gonna say something like "Never give up" or "Do it or die trying"...)
First things first. It's not enough to say "I want to be fit", "I'd like to make more money" and my favorite "I just want to be happier".
You've got to get crystal clear about what you want and why you want it.
When you say "Get fit"– what does that mean? Lose 50lbs, run a marathon, do 50 pushups?? What do you mean specifically?
What is "more" money? Do you want to double your income? How about turn your yearly income into your monthly income? Do you want to create another stream of income?
What is "happier"? Family, business, relationships? Is it about the amount of time you spend doing something you love, something you're passionate about. What's the thing you want to do that makes you happy and how much time do you want to be doing it, per day, per week?
This is so critical because you are going to come up against days when you feel like you're not getting anywhere. You're gonna feel down. Statements like "I'm still fat" or "I'm weak and tired" or "My business isn't getting any better" , "I spent too much money", "My relationships aren't getting any better", "I feel depressed" are going to start taking a punch at you and you are going to need a way to punch back in order to keep going.
Trust me, when this counter-attack takes place, and it will, it will come at you full force. It's your old programming and all it wants to do is get you back to "normal". It wants to put an end to all the discomfort.
You can't measure "happy","better", and "more" and that's exactly what you're going to need to fight back when your old self shows up and starts making the claim that all your efforts are being wasted.
I've lost "x" amount of pounds. I am running "x" amount of miles further or I'm "x" time faster. I'm now spending "x" amount of time doing something I love that brings me joy. My income has increase by "x" amount.
You see, it's this concrete, measured information that will serve as proof that whatever argument that is being made that your efforts are being wasted, is not true. You are a sitting duck without it.
It's critical and you can never get it if you don't get clear about just what it is that you want.
Second, decide what you're willing to do and give up in order to get it.
Sacrifice is giving something up in the short term to receive something greater in the long term.
Basically, now is the time to have the conversation with yourself about just how uncomfortable you are willing to be to get what you want.
Not when you're smack dab in the middle of your crappiest day.
Are you willing to be tired? Frustrated? Confused?
What are you going to do when you feel this way? Make the decision now. When is enough, enough for you?
I would venture to say that if you've chosen to do something that represents achieving A LOT more happiness and joy in your life, you would be willing to endure a lot to achieve it.
Make the decision now so you're not blindsided when these moments show up. You knew they were coming. Choose how you will respond now so your response is automatic. You will say: "This is just part of the process of getting what I want. I knew it was coming and I choose to keep achieving my goal."
Then pull out that concrete evidence and prove to yourself that what you are doing is working.
Look here, I've lost "x" amount of pounds. I've created the habit of exercising "x" number of times per week.
I'm now spending "x" amount of time doing something I love, that makes me feel happier.
My income has increased this much. Or I've been consistently working on increasing my income and have produced these opportunities.
Whatever your evidence is that you're moving toward and achieving your goal, use it now to prove to yourself that you are getting there and as long as you keep going you will have what you want.
Learn the art of shifting your focus.
Train yourself to re-focus your thoughts back on the thing you want.
In the beginning, when you say you want something and you REALLY want it, the loudest voices you hear are the ones that are saying "YES!! THAT'S WHAT WE WANT AND IF WE GOT THAT IT WOULD BE AMAZING. LET'S DO IT!"
Most of the time, when you get really excited about going for something you want very much, you don't hear any other voices.
But, as you move forward toward your goal and the effort gets uncomfortable– the other voices begin to show up. "This is really hard." "I'm tired","This is crazy", "It's not working" etc. etc. They get louder and louder.
They get louder because we allow them to do so. Because we don't realize that we hold all the power.
You can't think of something you love and something you hate at the same time. Don't believe me? Give it a shot now.
See? Your conscious mind can't do it. So only one thought at a time. This is good!!
Why? I hear you asking... Because you are the one who gets to choose the thought.
If you take anything away from this make it this one fact: NO ONE AND NO THING CAN EVER MAKE YOU THINK SOMETHING. YOU ARE THE AMBASSADOR OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND ALWAYS HAVE ULTIMATE CONTROL OVER WHAT YOU THINK. WHETHER YOU ACCEPT OR REJECT A THOUGHT, YOU ARE THE ONE WHO DECIDES.
The art of shifting your focus in 3 simple steps:
1. Develop an awareness for how you are feeling (and more importantly, exactly what is causing these feelings"
2. Ask yourself these 2 simple questions "Is what I'm thinking about and feeling what I really want?" and "What do I really want and how will getting it make me feel?"
3. Only think of what you want. Period, end of lecture. Mic drop. (Remember, you can only think of one thing at a time and you are the ambassador, you get to say what that thing will be)
Begin to hone and develop your awareness for how you are feeling by simply asking yourself: Does this feel good or does this feel bad? Do I feel good or do I feel bad?
When you notice that you are feeling bad, that's ok. You've just become aware that something is going on that's not going to help you achieve your goal. In fact, it will stop you cold if it were to continue, but you've just made yourself aware of it and awareness is always the first step changing.
Simply put, if you're hitting yourself on the head with a hammer (because it's a nasty habit of yours) and all you do is walk around complaining about the massive headache you've got, will you ever be able to fix your headache if you don't first become aware that you hit yourself on the head with a hammer all day?
It gets better. Most people will even tell you "I don't hit myself on the head a hammer... Huh, that 's crazy... I don't do that."
Become aware and don't judge yourself. You can't escape from a prison if you don't know you're in one.
Ask yourself these two simple questions:
"Is what I'm thinking about and feeling what I really want?" and "What do I really want and how will getting it make me feel?"
Is what you're thinking about and more importantly, FEELING, what you really want?
This answer is always "NO" if you are feeling bad. It's a fact (you can fact check me here if you like).
Ok, move on to the second question and do it quickly before you get all judgy with yourself for thinking something negative... We all do it.
"What do you really want and how will getting it make you feel?"
Why did you choose to do this in the first place. Remember how enamored you were by the idea of achieving your goal in the beginning. What did you see yourself getting? Why did you want to do it? AND, what does it feel like now that you've achieved it?
Yes, I said "now that you've achieved it...". That's not a mess up. Feel your goal achieved already. Feel the happiness and joy now. See how the world looks from there. See yourself saying "Yes, I did it!", "I love it", "It feels amazing".
See people asking you how you did it and telling you that it is great.
Choose to only think from here, as in, your goal achieved. Every time you feel bad, make the shift to seeing and more importantly FEEL your success already achieved and you will have mastered the art of shifting your focus.
Become a practitioner of the simple steps offered to you here and I promise you, you will never again have to look back on "new year's resolutions not achieved".
Instead you will have a list of amazing things you've accomplished and more importantly, a much much happier life.