Hey it’s not the “new year” anymore, how are those resolutions coming? Yeah… us too. Enjoy Mary’s more pragmatic take on what brings real change to your life. – InPower Editors
Tired of the whole “new year, new you” resolution practice? Most times, it doesn’t happen. On average it takes you 66 days to achieve your goals by adopting a new habit; for the 25% of us who make a resolution that lasts a week – we barely get a start on that. Many psychologists believe the reason for the failure is “false hope syndrome,” or setting unrealistic goals to change behaviors that are rewards, like smoking, drinking, overeating.
Rather than being unsuccessful at fulfilling random promises, look at the new year as the next set of long-term changes. In the past, I have done 2 activities to get there:
- Practice gratitude
- Shift one personal belief
Practicing gratitude encourages us to appreciate what we have rather than what’s missing. Some practice activities include saying thank you more often, journaling our blessings, and sharing those warm feelings with others. Some have misinterpreted gratitude as being selfish because it doesn’t include enough human interaction. However, the practice goes deeper than that.
Practicing gratitude shifts your belief to see that you aren’t entitled to anything.
Without desire or expectation, you realize that life is a series of choices. Everyone makes choices for personal reasons that have little to do with your life. This perspective helps you not take things personally. You also realize that everything you experience is a gift. How you receive that gift gives significance to it.
Another benefit: when you focus on the good in your life, you notice more of what’s great, which leads to abundance.
Shift One Personal Belief
There are many ways to do this, but this is an approach that helped me shift my beliefs and built my skills and confidence.
Step 1. Choose one belief about yourself that you’d like to change.
I have done this in the past for 2 beliefs, one at a time – that I’m horrible at financials and that I’m not athletic. I’d suggest not changing too many beliefs at once – change requires a lot of focus.
Step 2. Shift the story you share about that belief.
As long as you keep telling yourself the same stories, you will continue to believe that they are true.
Most likely, you aren’t good at something because you avoid it. Then, you tell yourself and others that you aren’t good at it. Others believe what you tell them and you assume the identity you shared. It’s a catch 22 situation. (A video from Geneen Roth at Oprah.com for more explanation).
So how do you change the story you tell yourself?
- Be objective with yourself about your accomplishments. No one is a complete failure at anything. You’ve most likely had successes in the area you want to change. Create a list of wins.
- Identify the situations when you didn’t have success. Be objective. This becomes the list of what you need to work on.
- Realize that you may not have been successful because you didn’t have all the information necessary to succeed. Adjust your story to include room for learning.
- Re-write your story including the wins and the learning.
I was a chubby kid. I wasn’t a great runner and always chosen last for teams. I saw myself as an athletic failure. Occassionally, I’d do something great like kick the kickball over the fence and score a homerun, or stop a basketball from going in the basket. However, I didn’t see these as athletic promise; I saw them as flukes.
This belief continued as I practiced weight lifting in my 20s and performed multi-hour belly dance shows in my 30s. It wasn’t until I started attending a fit camp and kept pace with the athletic class members that I shifted that perspective.
My belief that I’m not athletic held me back from sports or other physical activity. I would drop workout regiments because I thought I didn’t have the ability to do them.
Now my story is that I’m athletic, my legs and abs are strong, and I need to work on my coordination and my arm strength. Talk about a shift!
Step 3. Build confidence by gaining knowledge
Take an interest in the belief you want to change. You don’t need to become an expert overnight, but do small things to build your knowledge about that topic. To shift my financial belief, I would ask my accountant questions, read budgeting books, and take classes about project budgets.
To shift your belief, you need to feel more comfortable with the topic behind the belief you want to change. The knowledge you gain will help you make more informed future decisions.
Step 4. Set goals so you don’t give up
Goals drive change. The best way to keep learning, growing and rewriting your story is to take on a project in the area you want to change. This process allows you to get another win so you can rewrite your story.
(This is why 12-week fitness challenges are successful. They provide experiences for wins to help rewrite your story.)
Here are goals that keep me motivated to change:
- For fitness: Dead hang for 5 minutes. I have a LONG way to get there, but it keeps me motivated to build arm strength and appreciate my accomplishments.
- For financial: Improve cash flow for my business –bill ontime so I get paid ontime. (It sounds simple, but for a sole proprietor with shifting priorities, it’s a challenge.)
Practicing gratitude and changing my beliefs has changed my character. I am happier. I have improved my perception of myself, my self-esteem, confidence, and my capabilities. I also learned about pace. Life isn’t about checklists; it’s a combination of activities that impact change.
So forget the resolutions; work on long-term change to achieve your goals.