Why is it so hard to get New Year’s resolutions to stick?
As years fly by, we gain a greater understanding that absent positive change, decline is inevitable. The challenge is to recognize that what we are now doing can be reinvented by setting an intention that we are firmly committed to achieving – but first, we have to see it in the mind’s eye, believe that we can achieve it, and then plan out our actions step-by-step to unfold it. Without a plan of action, your resolution will just remain a wish. And without a clear intention that you are enticed and excited by, it is hard to bring about significant change because all change takes a change in thought and belief to create a change in behavior. And as the old saying goes, no one likes change except a baby with a wet diaper.
Here are five reasons why it is so difficult to make New Year’s resolutions stick:
1. The internal tug-a-war – those powerful countervailing forces show up, critical committees talking to us in our minds, when we first attempt to try on a positive change. And we quickly discover competing commitments pulling us in opposite directions causing us to spend a great deal of energy attempting to satisfy each: "I'm going to lose 20lbs but I really love drinking wine." or “I am going to start a business of my own but I really like the security of the paycheck I get from my job today.”
2. Are we busy or what? Our overbooked lives and strong adversity to change try to keep us from replacing deeply ingrained habits. Today, 64% of people in the US say there is not enough time in the day to get things done. A poor night's sleep and tight work deadlines drain what little energy we have left. We numb ourselves in front of the TV or web surf to pass the time rather than taking little action steps that move us forward to accomplish our intentions.
3. Most people feel they have to figure “it” out on their own, do the hard work and toil along and lack respect for their strong immunity to change, therefore, they don't develop the support systems that are necessary to overcome the powerful dynamics at play to stay the same. However, there is untapped energy to be found if we can become less attached to the “do it on your own” paradigm that protects us from change.
4. Habits are behaviors created out of beliefs, and beliefs are nothing more than thoughts that are thought over and over again. Create new habits of thought – give your brain enough time and energy to learn a new way of thinking, of reaching for possibilities. Thought is not part of our DNA and can be changed. Relearn deeply ingrained habits by developing and following a goal-achieving plan through personal practice, commitment, focus and the support of others.
5. Getting clear on the enticing and exciting results a change will have in your life. Some feel they need a change but have a difficult time articulating and envisioning what that change will look like, feel like, and the difference it will create – the results! Developing the ability to respond to unpredictable change is very hard. Most are afraid to develop approaches to move from the more comfortable status quo. Learning to take risks by starting with small projects (where the impact of failure – and success! - is not excessive) is a good approach to overcome this lack of initiative.
Once you know what you want to create, where you want to be, do or have, the next step is to give a good honest look in the mirror to discover where you really are today---how your current habits are making you act, how others view you and what your deep assumptions and beliefs are. This will clearly define “the gap” between where you are and where you want to be. The realization of the gap prepares you for developing the plan of action needed – a personal strategic plan that commits to action. After all, thinking is not the same as action and a rocking chair may have motion, but it isn’t going anywhere.
It takes more than self-help books to move you forward to close the gap. Friends and family can help us affirm whatever progress we are making, test our perceptions and let us know how we are doing from their perspective. That is a fine model of self-directed learning because without others involvement, lasting change can't occur. Yet with big change and the need for innovative solutions to existing problems, it will require support in the form of an unbiased partner such as a personal Coach, who guides you in handling important issues without having a personal vested interest. Their sole focus is to help you get to where you what to be. When we engage a Coach, we’ve instilled in a safe environment about an impending desired change, we reach clarity on what we must do to keep the momentum moving forward and we’re held accountable to taking the action. Building our capacity to accept and handle changes can release unnecessary worry (which is nothing more than using your brilliant imagination to create everything your don’t want). Taking stock of progress we are making, and affirming next steps is an important success tactic to any change – keeping score of what you are doing, not what you aren’t doing. Are you ready for that change you’ve been talking about? If not now, when?