by Diane Wing, M.A.
The essence of the New Year resolution is change. You’ve decided to make a significant change to start off the New Year right, but historically, it has been a difficult road that leads to falling back onto old behaviors.
The process goes something like this: You decide that as of January 1st it’s time to make a change in your _________ (fill in the blank – weight, living environment, financial condition, job, etc.). Then you let it go through the holidays, especially any hopes of dieting with all of the yummy foods available around that time, vowing to make the desired changes once January comes. January gets here and you start out well, sticking to the routine for a few weeks. But the change is hard and you miss the old way of being, so little by little, motivation wanes and the desire to change is replaced with frustration, leading back to the original behavior. This may be followed by guilt or depression at not being able to change.
The missing link is the higher purpose of the change being made. The resolution stands for the essence of a larger change you want to make. If your goal is to lose weight or to quit smoking, the higher purpose is to get healthy. If your goal is to save money, the higher purpose is to achieve financial responsibility and independence, which includes addressing spending habits. If the goal is to do a deep-clean of the house, including purging old items, the higher purpose is to let go of the old energies attached to your stuff and make room for new energies to come into your space and your life.
Once a higher purpose is established, it becomes an all-encompassing shift that allows for the big change to happen, as well as the smaller shifts necessary to get to your destination. For example, to quit smoking, the behavior needs to be replaced by something else. For some, they eat more, which prompts weight gain and creates another problem. Instead, vow to get healthy, which includes quitting smoking, and replacing it with something like walking around the block or exploring healthy recipes.
Try this resolution process to reach your New Year goals:
- Decide what change is desired.
- Decide that this change is essential to creating your ideal life.
- Associate a higher purpose to the resolution (lose weight [desired change] = get healthy [higher purpose])
- Envision what your life looks like once the desired purpose is achieved. For example, getting healthy results in more stamina, better mental function, and happier mood.
- Make choices based on the higher purpose rather than a stringent schedule that becomes tiresome and frustrating. Such as when dieting, simply eat less, consider healthier food options, take walks, and modify small guilty pleasures having them on occasion. Doing this rather than denying yourself, counting calories, and planning every meal allows for long-term changes that become new habits.
- Seek out others who have already mastered the way of being that you are striving toward. The temptations to stray to the old habits are less and hanging out with them promotes adherence to your goals. For example, hang out with non-smokers to enhance your chances of kicking the habit.
- Keep the vision of a better way of life top of mind.
Wishing you success in achieving your goals!
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