Three easy steps to make your New Year Resolutions successful!
If you haven’t managed to keep your resolutions, don’t panic and above all: don’t beat yourself up. Just look at your intentions, re-think, re-phrase and re-plan, so you can celebrate the new you! We are a few weeks into the new year and I wonder who is still keeping to his or her new year resolutions. Is this your pattern? You kicked off with the positive, ‘This time I am going to do it! Really!’ kick-off, the pride after day 1, day 2, the growing struggle after day 3, until the moment of collapse when you fully embraced the old habit and you buried until the coming December.
Think it trough and be truthful
The main issue is that people don’t really think through what they want to achieve. So, they tell themselves to do or not do things, that they actually deep down don’t endorse. Think of the smoker who wants to quit. A smoker who genuinely enjoys his cigarettes, is lying when he says he wants to quit. Of course, he doesn’t. Who wants to stop doing something enjoyable? So, you set yourself up for failure, because one part of you says ‘YES I QUIT’ and the silent power inside is mumbling ‘NANANANA, I DON’t REALLY WANT IT AND IT’s NOT GOING TO WORK OUT’. And guess who is going to win?
What is the gain?
‘I want to quit smoking’ is not a goal, it is a change in behaviour. It also is an untruthful statement, so before you even have started, it is already doomed. Looking at the benefits of not smoking, it might be that an individual aims to be fitter, or have more disposable money, or doesn’t want to be ‘ruled’ by the desire to have a sigarette, or… whatever. If there is a benefit that makes the lack of smoking worthwhile, there is a big chance that the attempt to stop will be successful. If you are not aware of these underlying benefits, forget about it. You will not succeed and you will only frustrate yourself and possibly bore or disappoint the people around you.
How to talk
Language is the carrier of communication and the delivery of the message is more important than the actual message. When talking about a change, it would help if it was worded in a positive way. Who are you thinking of if you hear: ‘You should be doing…..’ or ‘Stop doing ….’? Could that be an authoritative person from your past, who wanted you to do something that you didn’t or was telling you off? Now, as an adult, who makes a new year resolution, you are most likely using very similar language, in the same forceful and negative way. ‘I have to stop smoking!’ ‘I should be fitter’ ‘It is time to do something about it!’ If you present your process of change towards yourself in a patronising and forceful way, how can you ever get a positive thrill out of it? And what about your response when you are not successful, or not as rigid as you told yourself to be? The beating up starts with telling oneself of ‘How stupid’, ‘I failed’, ‘I am a nothing’, and you end up feeling more miserable than before you even started to change your behaviour.
Do look back
If you have disappointed yourself, have a look at the process you went through, when you decided to change. Find out where you might have been unhelpful to yourself and what you could have done differently. There are techniques that can be learned to ensure that you can keep to your resolutions and for setting goals that you are more likely to keep, which will mean that this time next year you could be actually setting new, more exciting and realistic goals instead of the same old ones time and time again. And set out a step-by-step planning to make sure you get there – in the end!
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About Mariette Jansen
Dr Mariette Jansen (Dr De-Stress) is a psychological coach, using therapy models, coaching techniques and mindfulness meditation to help you become balanced, stress free and in control of your life.
Focus areas are work-life balance, confidence, food/diet stress and general stress.
Author of two books: on meditation and exam stress.