Happy New Year…Again: Fixing the Broken Resolution
by Vincent Mancarella
I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone write a New Year resolutions article in March? Good question. Well, the reason is, very simply, because now is the perfect time to review the changes you attempted to make those many months ago. By now you have had plenty of time to create your resolutions, implement them… and break them.
Broken resolutions are as cliché as the excuses we use to justify why we broke them. It seems that no matter how hard we try, not even our best intentions, or the volumes of self-help information on the market, can get us off that hamster wheel of change. Well run no more. Here are five overlooked, unknown and often misunderstood tips to help you set your goals, stay focused and finally succeed at making any change you desire.
So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
Who knew such sage advice could come from the Spice Girls? But they speak the truth. The very first order of business is to ask yourself one very simple question, “Do I really want to make this change? Is this goal or desire coming from me or some outside influence?” (Yes, I realize, that was two questions).
We are under so much pressure to want certain things or to be certain ways from so many different sources that we can easily lose ourselves in the chase, forgetting why we started in the first place. So before setting any plans and buying all the “consumer goods of change” ask yourself, “Would this change really make my life better and is it really worth all the effort?” If, after all this inquiry and soul searching, you still want to go through with it, then go for it! Your chances of success are far greater if your heart is in it and your head clearly understands what you want and why you want it.
Feelings, Nothing more than Feelings
Continuing our theme of ancient wisdom from cheesy pop songs, we come to what is often the sole reason for failure; emotions. Some would say that inventions like the car seat warmer and microwavable Pop Tarts prove that humans are the most intelligent creatures on the planet. This may or may not be the case, but what is true is that, despite our best efforts and denials, we are not led by our intelligence. It is our emotions (you know, those little voices and impulses you keep repressing) that usually rule the day. Knowing this one simple fact can greatly assist in the success of your goals.
As creatures of habit, change doesn’t often feel very nice. In fact, it can be so uncomfortable that many people give up at the first taste of discomfort. So how do you make it through the tough times? When you are at a low point, ready to cave in, remember, just because it feels bad doesn’t mean it is.
Now if you have your hand in an open flame perhaps this isn’t the advice to follow. But barring any physical harm it is worth a try. For example, the first few days or even weeks of giving up smoking, caffeine or sugar can definitely feel uncomfortable to say the least. But who would argue with the positive benefits of reducing or eliminating these addictive substances?
Anticipating the initial discomfort, rather than resorting back to old habits to feel better, you can try something new. Let that feeling remind you of the importance of the change you are making. Let that feeling lead you to do something constructive for your goals. Maybe even try just doing nothing. Sit down and take some nice, deep breaths. Take a little time to sit with the feeling and see what it is about. See what’s underneath that feeling, what’s really driving it. See what else comes to your mind. You’d be surprised what you can learn through discomfort when you’re not too busy running to the nearest distraction to mask it.
Help! I Need Somebody.
A classic song and classic advice: You hear all the time these days about the importance of support in one’s life. Enough can not be said about the need for support when making changes or setting goals. Its importance can never be overemphasized. Just as important is making sure you get the right type of support with which you work best. The right support alone can mean the difference between success and failure.
It is not uncommon for the people around you to resist the changes you wish to make in your life, especially the big ones. Those around you know you as a certain person in a certain way. They don’t necessarily want you to change. Your exciting change may mean they won’t have a partner to hang out with anymore. Or worse, through your endeavors, you may be forcing them to examine something in their life that they are not ready to face. That’s OK for them. It’s not your job to change anyone else’s life. However, we have enough problems with the sabotaging voices in our own heads, the last thing we need is to give those voices assistants on the outside world.
Many times the people around us don’t necessarily mean to get in our way and they don’t realize the damage they do. Even a small seemingly, harmless sarcastic remark can send you into a spiral of destruction. So it’s important to tell those around you what you are doing and how they can help you. If they are not interested in helping you or if they are not comfortable with the change you are making then it’s time to find others who are interested and willing to help.
Find those people who are going through the same experience or have already made the change, and talk to them. Hire a coach or a counselor or even a therapist if that’s what it takes to get you the support you need. Also consider the type of support that will best serve you. Do you need the type of encouragement that Grandma would give? Or perhaps you require a drill sergeant; whatever works for you is the right answer, regardless of what others may try to convince you to do.
Lean On Me
Another classic hit with priceless advice: In addition to the people you need to support you, it is equally as important to help yourself in the process as much as possible.
Once you stop the voices on the outside it’s time to deal with the voices on the inside. Be careful what you say to yourself and what beliefs you stuff into your head. How successful do you think you’ll be if you keep thinking, “I’m never going to do this,” Or “I can’t do that,” or even the little, “I don’t like this?”
So when you notice a negative thought that will not help you, simply say, “Thank you for your opinion, now please sit down.” Then turn that thought around to the positive and repeat it to yourself over and over and over again. “I am going to do this. I can do it. I like what this change will bring.” After a while you may be surprised to find that the negative voices are getting quieter as you are getting more successful.
Next surround yourself with anything you can that will help you. One great tool we have for change is our sight. What we see we bring into our reality – we accept into our lives. So instead of bombarding yourself with death and destruction or media candy, bring some real positive light into your life.
Surround yourself with visual reminders of the change you seek. Display anything you can that will remind you that this is what you want and that you will be successful. Watch your favorite movie or read your favorite inspirational book. Fill your vision with positive supportive images. These visual aids will also help you in those moments of weakness or forgetfulness. It’s very hard to forget what you are striving to achieve when you are surrounded by reminders.
Also take some time every day, in the morning or at night before bed to see yourself successful. Really live the success in your imagination. Fill it with as much detail as you can and play that scene over and over again in your mind. As the saying goes, “If you can see it, you can be it.”
Another great tool is the plan. Having a plan can be essential to creating successful change and can be just as important in helping you get back on track. So if you should happen to take a few of those “unexpected days off” you can just look at the plan and get right back to it. Give yourself all the help you can. The more assistance you can give yourself , the easier will be your road to change.
The Eye of the Tiger
A final anthem of inspiration for the final and possibly most important tip of all. Once you’ve assessed the situation, prepared yourself for the possible discomfort to come, and surrounded yourself with as much support as you can, it is time to take the biggest step of all. Decide! Decide that no matter what, you will succeed. Decide that resilience will be your middle name and perseverance will be your last. If you start to slip or cheat, refocus and get back to it. Decide, no matter how long it takes, no matter the obstacles, no matter the discomfort, you will succeed. You may have to adapt your strategies. It may not happen as you originally foresaw. But somehow you will see it through to the end. You will finish what you started.
And in the moments of weakness don’t be hard on yourself. Do not beat yourself up for failing. Don’t dwell on it. Simply chalk it up to experience. Learn what you can from the temporary failure, dust yourself off and reaffirm your desires and your goals. Decide that the game is not over until you say so.
Also consider that resilience doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to “tough it out”, “suck it up” or any other euphemism for taking the hardest road possible. Perhaps your version of perseverance is making slow and steady steps toward change. The easiest changes to make are the ones that are barely felt. So if you know you don’t do well with making big changes in short periods of time then don’t! Instead make the commitment to making smaller, easier changes over a longer period until you achieve your goal.
So there you have it, the wisdom of the ages as spoken through the songs that will last through the ages (or at least till you delete them from your I-Pod). Change can be difficult but very satisfying. It can radically improve your life and set you on the path to a destiny you never even dreamed possible. Always remember that the potential to be what you wish is already inside you. All you have to do is let it out and create it in your life. Instead of thinking you are making yourself better, think of it as letting out that incredible person who is just waiting to be set free. So shoot for the stars, support yourself through the process and come next New Year you won’t have to worry about anymore silly resolutions because positive change will be part of your life not a New Year annoyance.
Vincent Mancarella – has studied and worked in the fields of manifestation, health, energy, movement, voice and bodywork for over a decade. He is a certified Holistic Health Counselor, Energy Healer and Transformational Momentum Coach educated in both Eastern and Western healing modalities. In addition to his studies of manifestation, energy and healing he also holds a 3rd degree black belt in the Japanese art of Ninpo Tijutsu.