It wasn’t that long ago that we took those noble vows to: lose weight, quit smoking, drinking, avoid spending… the list goes on, and do it all as of January 1st.
How’s that working out for you?
Same old story? When the hangover eventually cleared, maybe you gave it a go: eating only carrot sticks for lunch, going cold turkey on the nicotine etc. Perhaps you managed a few days of being ‘the new you’. But a couple months later are you still doing it?
What happened? On the scale after a week of wretched carrots sticks and you GAINED a pound!? A little thing can throw us off course and we throw in the towel.
By now for most of us, New Years and all its promises are long forgotten, if we bothered to make any in the first place: “I haven’t got the willpower - maybe next year.”
Why do so many of our good intentions, our ‘resolutions’, end up in disappointment and giving up? What if I said it has nothing to do with willpower?
Instead it’s the way we make our resolutions that can set us up to fail. Allow me to share with you some insights into how our minds work, and you’ll see it’s no wonder we can’t keep those resolutions very long.
A few things to know about our minds:
We get what we focus on.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re aware of something new, suddenly you start seeing it everywhere? Ever broken up with someone only to find every radio station is playing sad love songs, every channel is showing a romance, there are couples kissing on every corner. Or for example, when I found out I was pregnant, suddenly there were pregnant women EVERYWHERE. Had there actually been some freak fertility boost or had my subconscious just not been paying attention before? Whether good or bad, we see what’s on our mind, usually lots of it…
That’s the thing about our subconscious… it is like our simple, faithful servant, wishing to answer our every command. The subconscious doesn’t make judgments or consider if something is helpful or unhelpful, it just provides supporting evidence of what is asked of it. So just like with break-ups and babies, whatever’s on our minds, the subconscious works hard to manifest it.
Another thing about our subconscious - it does not work in negatives…
Example: if I ask you NOT to think of a pink elephant with blue polka dots, what is the first thing you think of? You can’t help it. In order not to think of something, we must think of it first. So all of our resolutions about not smoking, not drinking, giving up cake… if we remove the negatives, what do we get? What is our brain now focusing on and our subconscious wanting to provide more of? Exactly what we don’t want! More cigarettes, booze and calories! Can you really be blamed for not avoiding those things you’re trying to give up, when that’s all you see?
What can we do instead of fighting our subconscious and wasting time and energy making resolutions that might leave us even worse off than we were before?
Make resolutions that set us up to achieve what we want!
In coaching, we call this goal-setting. Goals are a fundamental part of the coaching process. The thinking is, if we don’t know what it is we’re heading for, how will we know:
a). what direction and action to take to get us there and
b). when we’ve even arrived?
There is a ton of research showing that goal setting, when done properly, leads to higher achievement rates and greater success in both personal and professional endeavours. Top athletes, wealthy business tycoons, successful politicians have all cited goal setting as part of their success strategy. What makes their goals different to our new years resolutions that we set each year and fail to keep? I’ll bet that it doesn’t come down to willpower, or intelligence, or financial resources. It’s that these high achievers know the secret to successful goal setting. It’s also likely that they have had some coaching around it. Personal development gurus like Tony Robbins and Brian Tracey put coaching on the map twenty years ago as an invaluable tool to boost performance, create positive change and help people achieve their dreams. And that road to success for all of us starts with setting good, strong goals.
It’s never too late to start making those changes you want to see in your life, and actually stick to them! Start thinking about what you do want for the rest of this year going forwards, instead of what you don’t and let your subconscious start working for you. It’s spring time, a time for new beginnings Next week I’ll be helping you to turn your resolutions into goals and start turning intention into action. Together we can make this the New You Year you’ve always been resolving towards!