Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Making and Breaking Resolutions

If you are reading this soon after it is published, then it is that time of year again.  The time we try to keep New Year resolutions.

Did you make any resolutions this year?  How many?  And have you kept them all?  Have you kept any of them?

For many people, New Years Resolutions are simply a tradition.  A bit like hanging up stockings and waiting for Santa to fill them.  They don't really expect to keep them.

For many others, New Years Resolutions are an opportunity to do something they know they ought to do, or stop doing something they know they ought to stop, but have never really had the motivation.

Most of the above fail to keep their resolutions.  Why?

Well, if you are in that first category, notice the final sentence.  "They don't really expect to keep them."  Is it any wonder  you don't keep those resolutions?  If you start with an expectation of failure, this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you don't really expect to keep a resolution you shouldn't make it.  Not only is it a waste of effort, but it is actually harmful.  Why harmful?  Because you are sending out a message to your subconscious mind that you are unable to achieve whatever you try to achieve.  Keep sending out this message and your subconscious will then apply it to everything else you try to do.  By paying lip-service to the tradition of making resolutions you will be weakening your ability to achieve anything, not simply those half-hearted resolutions.

As for the second category, notice "they have never really had the motivation".  Do you fit into that category?  Do you make resolutions in good faith, and with every intention of keeping them, but don't really have any motivation to do so?  If so, then you are very unlikely to succeed.  Without motivation you will probably fall at the first hurdle.  If not the first hurdle then the second.  And there will be quite a few hurdles to cross before you can finally say you have kept the resolution and will now always keep it.  You need strong motivation to cross all those hurdles.

Before even thinking of making a resolution, begin by asking yourself why you want to do this.

For example, if you want to stop smoking, why do you want to stop?  The glib answer to this is "because smoking is unhealthy".  That may be the reason, but it is not sufficient to give you the motivation you need.  What you should do is start listing all the positives and the negatives.  The positives are all the benefits you will gain if you stop smoking.  Try to think of as many as you can.  Identify the ones that really appeal.  The negatives are all the bad things that may happen if you don't stop smoking.  Again, try to think of as many as you can.  Do some research online if you cannot come up with a long list - you will find plenty of reasons out there.  And again, identify the ones that really horrify you.

At this point you have a list of really great things that should inspire you to keep your resolution, and another list of really bad things that can happen if you don't keep it.  Focus on those lists every day.  Especially focus on the positive list.  Really feel the change inside you and how good it makes you feel.

If you do this properly you will have the motivation you really need in the form of a bunch of carrots and a load of sticks!  With that motivation you are much more likely to succeed!

Of course, you don't have to do this simply at New Year.  This is a good exercise to try at any time of year.

Tackle your resolutions this way one by one.  Once you have turned a resolution into a habit which you are confident is there for good, then turn to the next one.  Don't try to do two or more at once, as you are then much more likely to fail.  Focus on just the one.  Don't pick one that you think you ought to do but cannot really get yourself properly motivated to do - when you create your "reasons why" lists you will soon see whether or not this is something for you to attempt.  And don't think of it as a pass or fail exercise.  You may slip back into your old habits from time to time.  Don't consider that a "fail", but just a reminder that it is important to keep on trying.

Use these techniques and you really can improve your life in ways that may not even seem possible right now!

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