that time of year again. As January 1st
approaches, admit it: you've probably been
thinking of making at least one New Year's
resolution. I know I have. But if you're like me,
you've probably had your fair share of past
disappointments. Some studies have estimated that
roughly 9 out of 10 New Year's resolutions "fail"
within the first 30 days.
we choose to embark upon important life changes or
set goals around New Year's or anytime of the
year, there's no shortage of suggestions out there
about how best to achieve these. I've never been
the kind of person to suggest that "one size fits
all." But through looking at my own life and
combing through the research, I'd like to offer a
few perspectives that may assist you in realizing
your better life.
First, it may be
wise to focus on just one or two changes or goals
at a time rather than a slew of them. For some, we
must tackle the hardest and most important
changes/goals first. For others, it may work to
build some steam and confidence by starting with
smaller, less challenging changes/goals.
Two: it makes sense
to me that while New Year's is a natural time for
renewal and a fresh start, we might be wise not to
make too much of this time marker. If a change or
goal is so important, why not start now? There may
at least be action steps we might begin taking in
advance of New Years and also recognize that our
actions likely will be ongoing through January,
through the year and, perhaps, throughout our
lives. Getting sober or weight reduction and
management are examples of this.
Three: Instead of thinking of
some desired change as a resolution or a promise
or a vow, how about thinking about it as a
"solution" to something that is obviously
bothering you. What sounds better: I'm making a
resolution or "I'm creating a solution." If I
fall short on a resolution, it feels like I've
already failed; if, however, I fall short on my
solution, it feels more like I've just hit a
little bump in the road and I need to create a way
to get back on track. It sounds like semantics but
it's human psychology at its simplest and
Four: we need to be
honest with ourselves about whether we're really
ready to change or accomplish what we tell
ourselves or others. Prochaska and DiClemente,
noted theorists, outlined five stages of change:
pre-contemplation, contemplation, investigation,
implementation, and maintenance. Each of these
stages can last a long time. What stage are you at
with each goal or "solution" you're entertaining?
It's likely you're at the contemplation stage. So,
how do we get to the next stages?
Five: we also need
to be honest with ourselves about why we want to
change or achieve something. We're often filled
with conflicting feelings and issues. Take losing
weight: do I want to lose weight for myself or
someone else? Do I hate myself for not being
thinner? The law of attraction states: if I'm
focused on the negative, I'll get more of the
negative. This is why we often need positive
assistance to change or achieve something. This is
part of the investigation stage. How can I create
this solution? Do I need to read a book? See a
therapist? Talk to a life coach? Most of us make
the mistake of trying to change or accomplish
something all by ourselves. It rarely works. Been
Six: most of us can
muster a great effort at anything but, as they
say, as long as we're just "trying" we might as
well forget it. As Yoda said, "no try, do."
Someone coined the acronym "S.M.A.R.T." to
describe a helpful approach to change or goal
achievement. The letters stand for the
- (I will lose weight vs. I will become more
Measurable - (I will lose 10 pounds
vs. I will be thinner)
Attainable - (Despite
not having lost 10 pounds in a long time, I feel
it is attainable)
Realistic - (Losing 10 pounds
is more realistic than losing 100 lbs)
Sensitive - (I'll lose 10 pounds in 60 days vs.
I'll lose 10 lbs yeah, when? "The deadline is the
Seven: we are
motivated by both pleasure and pain. With losing
weight, if I give up eating foods I love, I may
lose some pleasure and I may experience some pain
of withdrawal and some resistance to disciplining
myself. If I can make it through the initial rough
patches, the pain will begin to subside and the
pleasure of achieving my goal, hopefully, will
outweigh the pleasure I derived from overeating.
Eight: nature abhors
a vacuum. When we stop doing something or begin
making major changes, a shift or emptiness
results. We need to fill that space in wisely.
Also, it's vital to anticipate the pitfalls and
struggles that will ensue without dwelling on them
or being intimidated by them. This is where books,
activities, friends, and other support really play
a crucial role.
all, maintain some focus on the positive things
about your life currently and how creating
solutions for an even better life is what living
is all about: moving forward, growing, healing,
challenging ourselves to be the best we can be so
that our experience of life continues to expand.
May 2007 be your best year yet!