How has January been for you?
If you started the new year with a list of resolutions that are now starting to dwindle and fade then you are not alone. According to a US news report 80% of us are said to have lost the resolve with our resolutions by February. Just hearing that figure makes you wonder if it’s worth making resolutions to begin with.
Here I share with you some different ideas about to re-define those resolutions so that they become more than a bothersome list of things to do and how to find ways to keep the momentum going into spring.
1) Turn resolutions into intentions and intentions into meaningful words.
For many the word resolution has become synonymous with failure and so it is almost as if we expect to fail before we have even begun. If we change the word resolution into an intention then it becomes more gentle, less pressured and more forgiving of our human failures. If you can break that intention down further into a word that is meaningful, impactful and motivational then all of a sudden that resolution becomes a mantra that is easy to remember which builds positive thought and action around it.
For example, if your resolution becomes an intention to lose weight then your word might be health, strength, acceptance or freedom. Choose a word that you feel is in harmony with the outcome of the intention and one that is positive and not pushy. Find your deep why that is connected to the root and heart of the change you want to make. Imagine yourself as you will be when you achieve this and notice what words spring to mind. You can then remind yourself of this word as you set your intentions for the day, as you face choices and challenges that test your resolve and whenever you need a boost to your motivation. Write those words on post it notes in key places, create a screensaver with them on, share it with others or get creative and draw out what this word means to you.
2) Visualise yourself doing what you need to do.
A lot of things are written about the law of attraction and visualising your future self having achieved your future goals and dreams as though this alone is enough to create it. There is now a body of evidence to suggest that it is not enough to visualise in this way. Instead try visualising the steps in the process needed to get you there and this will lead to a more successful outcome. Yes, have a vision of the goal you want to work towards and ensure that goal is based on your values to make it something that calls to you but then also work out what it is you need to do and spend time allowing your brain to explore the steps, processes and challenges that lead to this. Your brain is then ready to take action towards your goal as you have already created the memories and associations needed to get you there.
For example, I am currently working on writing a book. If I imagine myself as a published author in a years time, book in hand I feel like it is something a million miles away and out of reach. However, if I visualise myself writing a couple of pages a day, meeting with my coach to discuss progress and sitting in front of my computer typing, it feels like something that I am capable of doing. Of course, visualising isn’t enough to make it happen, that requires action but visualising has helped me engage with the process and feel that I have an achievable goal.
3) Watch your language.
”Be careful what you say to yourself because you are listening.” Lisa Hayes
Changing the words we use can change our emotions and patterns of behaviour. If the words we use make us feel bad we stop working on our efforts to change. No-one wants to feel guilt or shame on a daily basis because we have not lived up to our ideals so we change our ideals or stop trying to change and then we can’t feel guilt, shame or a sense of failure but we are still living in a previously undesired state so we still feel bad. This is a lose lose situation.
I meet a lot of clients who are running on empty because of their commitment to work. I hear them say they feel guilty about spending their free time catching up on sleep or binging on box sets on a Saturday morning because they should be going to the gym, seeing friends or family or going for a walk. The word should seems to be attached to a feeling of guilt and self loathing for their decision to take some down time and the way they spend that time. By changing the word to could and allowing them to explore their options for that important down time they then feel able to examine what it is they want to do and free to make a decision based on what feels right for them at that moment and their intentions for that day.
How often do you say to yourself and others, “ I should…”, “I need to …”, “I must…”?
Spend a day just noticing how often these kind of phrases enter your mind or come out of your mouth. And then try rephrasing them to “I could…”I choose”…” or “I want”. Having the freedom to choose suddenly makes the commitment to your intentions feel like something you are in control of rather than something to feel bad about.
4) Try self acceptance and self compassion.
This may sound paradoxical. If I accept who I am then what is the need to change? I don’t mean that self acceptance gets rid of the desire to make meaningful changes or the motivation to pursue a new path or passion in life, I simply mean that once we acknowledge what it is we want to change create a path of least resistance by accepting who you are now, warts and all. By pressing the stop button on thinking about what you don’t like or what isn’t working, you clear your mind to focus on positive action instead. Know that the route to change takes effort but that beating yourself up about it along the way won’t make it any easier.
Creating an affirmation that acknowledges where you are now as well as reminding you of your intentions and motivations can be useful. This is something that one of my clients came up with whilst we worked on her issues around food and weight. She managed to completely change her mindset and go from negative self talk and self loathing to a place of acceptance and positive self regard.
‘I am thankful for the body I have and all the things it allows me to do, I am unique and of value and I am working on becoming healthier and stronger so I can live a life of energy and joy and be an inspiration to my children to live their best life.’
So if your resolutions are waning, your resolve weakening and old habits and behaviours reappearing try out some of the above and see how it works for you. Let me know how you get on.