Strengthening Your Resolve

January 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Strengthening your resolve

With the start of a New Year come our new year’s resolutions.  Resolutions are easy to make, the challenge is seeing them to fruition.  Resolution lists often include healthy lifestyle choices:  Losing weight, exercising, eating better and getting more sleep.  We say we will try to manage our money better, stick to a budget, mend broken relationships.  We may pledge to take on a challenge, to write a book, start a new business, go back to school.  All of these are goals worthy of striving toward and making a resolution is a great start, but what our resolutions really need is less talk and more action.  A resolution starts as an intention.  We must add an action plan to that intention and then resolve to make it happen.

The most common resolutions by Americans are resolve to lose weight; quit smoking; get more exercise; and reduce their alcohol consumption, in that order, says University of Scranton psychologist John Norcross (read article)"These habits and behaviors are very difficult to change, and when you don't have a well thought out plan on how you are going to make sustainable changes that fit into your lifestyle, it leads to failure," he says.  In other words, it's not enough to simply say, "I want to lose weight and exercise more." You need a detailed blueprint that addresses how you'll reach these goals. The blueprint for your resolutions lays the groundwork to build a solid foundation from which you can begin to work.

Self-improvement, or at least the desire for it, is a shared American hobby. It’s why so many of us—some estimates say more than 40% of Americans—make New Year’s resolutions. (For comparison, about one-third of Americans watch the Super Bowl.)  But for all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions; University of Scranton research suggests that just 8 percent of resolution makers (see statistics) achieve their New Year’s goals. Statistics show that by the end of January some 64% of resolutions are still hanging in there, six months later that drops to 44 %.  We are a few of weeks into 2015.  How are your resolutions going?

Developing an action plan:

The first step in developing an action plan is to set realistic expectations.  The action plan needs to be simple and shared.  Start with a daily plan. What are three things you will do today that will move you in the direction of your goal? What are three things you want to have accomplished at the end of the week? The end of the month? Write them down, cross them off your list and reward yourself when you meet your short term goals.

Enlist an accountability partner, someone that’s “in it to win it” with you, maybe you join a group of people with similar goals, or create a social media group so that you can encourage one another.  If you have a strong friendship group online, perhaps on Twitter or Facebook, that’s a great place to turn for encouragement.  Get creative, but you must have an accountability plan.  Having an accountability partner keeps us motivated and committed.  For whatever reason, we tend to put more stock in the thoughts and opinions of others.  The idea of letting someone else down carries more weight with us.  Make a public commitment (such as social media posts). When we make a public commitment to do something our reputation is on the line.

In laying the groundwork for your successful resolution blueprint anticipate situations that will cause you to lose focus of your goals.  Examples of this are:  having too much stress, not managing your time well, travelling and having to eat out, any activities that cause you to be change from your newly established routine.  Plan ahead if you know you are going into a busy work week, how will you adjust your schedule so that you can stay on course with your goal.  

The 5 W's of resolution writing:

Who:  Yes, this is you.  Write down your name and a positive affirmation to encourage you to work toward change.

What:  This is the simplest question to answer.  What do you resolve to change?

Where:  Where will you work on this resolution?  If you plan to workout do you have a gym membership, have you purchased exercise equipment, bought new walking shoes?  If you plan to start journaling, have you purchased a journal?

When:  Set aside time each day dedicated to working on your resolution.  Monitor you daily and weekly progress and journal it.

Why:  And now the tough question, why do you want to change this behavior?  This is the question that is often neglected in the resolution process.  It may be intimidating to think about the "why" but you have a much better chance of making a meaningful resolution. Why vow to change something that isn't connected to the vision you have for your life? (read this) This can be an intimidating question but the better this question is answered the more success you will have with achieving your resolution.  Connecting your why to your long term vision is crucial.

Your mindset when you contemplate these questions matters. If you want to seriously engage in the process of change, it takes more than a few seconds of reflection.  You must be mindful and spend time reflecting on why you want the change and the process that you will follow to lead you to success.

The Law of Attraction:

In her book The Secret author Rhonda Byrne discusses The Law of Attraction.  She states that the great secret of life is the law of attraction which states like attracts like, when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you.  Stop and think to yourself: Am I manifesting positive thoughts to the changes I want to bring to my life?  Byrne goes on to say our thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency.  As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency.  "You are like a human transmission tower, transmitting a frequency with your thoughts.  If you want to change anything in your life, change the frequency by changing your thoughts."  Your thoughts become your actions. "In order to effect true positive change in your experience, you must disregard how things are, as well as how others are seeing you and give more of your attention to the way you prefer things to be," the book says.  

Establishing new patterns of behavior takes time:  

There are many people marketing the concept of 21 days to change but the fact is permanent change will take longer.  Can you form a new habit in 21 days?  The research tells us otherwise.   However, can you use a 21 day time frame to lay the groundwork for your resolution?  The answer is YES!  In this article Jason Selk discusses the 3 phases of habit formation.

Phase 1:  The Honeymoon  This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of "this is easy".  The honeymoon phase is usually the result of something inspiring.  For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.

Phase 2:  The Fight Through  Inspiration and reality sets in.  A person find himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seem to be right around the corner.  The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win two or three "fight through's". When you recognize the "fight through"  ask these two questions:  "How will I feel if I do this?" and "How will I feel if I don't do this?"  Bring emotion into the equation.  Let yourself feel the positive in winning the "fight through".  Ask yourself, "If I don't take action what will my life be like in 5 years?"  

Phase 3:  Second Nature  Entering second nature is often described by feelings of "getting in the groove".  Once in second nature, the following are three common interruptions that will send a person back to the "fight through".  Allowing negative results to discourage thinking, disruptions in our everyday lives, and the seduction of success when an individual begins to focus on positive results they have had even though they haven't followed a good process.  If a person experiences one of these interruptions they are back in the "fight" through" phase and must win their way back to the second nature phase.  

Expect Success:

Most people want positive habits and change to be easy.  Positive change requires sacrifice.  It requires doing things that others won't or can't do.  Great habits are formed daily.  Expect to keep your resolution  If we don't expect to keep a resolution, it is highly likely that we won't succeed.  It is important to be optimistic about our ability to achieve our goals.  If we take on a goal with the expectation to succeed we are better able to deal with obstacles along the way and are less likely to abandon our goals when the going gets tough.  Optimists react to setbacks from a position of personal power.  

The New Year is a great time to make that change you've been holding back on, so take a risk.  Step outside your comfort zone.  Push your boundaries.  Establish a realistic action plan.  Break it down into smaller daily and weekly goals.  Reward yourself, celebrate your mini-victories along the way.  Be kind to yourself if you suffer a setback.  Don't let one small failure lead to a bigger mistake of giving up. There is no time like the present to refocus on your resolutions.  So if you've set a New Year's resolution for the year ahead, whether it is personal or career related, use it as an exciting opportunity for adding meaning, purpose and success in your life.

 

 

 

 


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