Solutions for New Year’s Resolutions
Not often enough, we MAKE them. Too often, we BREAK them. And rarely do we KEEP them. By “them,” I mean New Year’s Resolutions. This year, let our first resolution be to keep the ones we make. Why? Because they will transform ourselves into the person we can become. If wine does it, why shouldn’t we also improve with age? Why shouldn’t we have something to look forward to?
Resolutions are promises we make to ourselves. When we keep them, we benefit in three ways. First, we prove that we have the power to change. Second, we prove that we can depend on ourselves by keeping our word. Third, we benefit from the positive changes the resolutions bring into our lives.
To help us keep our New Year’s Resolutions, I’m including a few ideas that may not have occurred to you. Other tips appear in two of my previous articles. If you find this article helpful and wish to learn more about the subject, you can check the other articles. They are entitled “New Year’s Resolutions” and “New Year’s Resolution Tips“.
Are we created by our thoughts or do we create our thoughts? The answer is BOTH. You see, by default, the daily ebb and flow of events automatically generate our thoughts. These thoughts then automatically lead to feelings, behaviour, and consequences. However, if we remain aware of our thoughts, we can interrupt them and change them. Once we do so, our feelings, behaviour, and outcomes also change.
When we fail to control our thoughts, they control us, and we are reduced to mere automatons, robots, or zombies. Most people, however, are neither zombies nor masters of their fate. They are somewhere in-between, controlling their thoughts at one moment and being controlled by them at another moment. The degree of success we experience in life is directly proportional to the amount of control we have over our thoughts.
For this reason, our first resolution for the New Year should be to increase the awareness and control of our thoughts. Let’s get a bit more specific. Our thoughts generally fall into two categories: positive or negative. They inspire us or diminish us, enslave us or set us free, empower us or weaken us. Moreover, since our mind, body, and spirit are integrated, what happens in one area of our lives affects the other areas as well. So, a negative thinker can end up with a broken spirit, sick body, and shattered dreams.
Now, let’s move on to another, but related, area. Let’s consider how the words and sentences we use can color or shape our perception. Our perceptions are important because they play a major role in the decisions we make. I’ll begin with an example. Mortimer is middle-aged and plump. So, he made the following resolution, “I need to lose weight, so I’m going to use this one-month free pass and workout several times a week at the fitness club.”
Although well-intentioned, his resolution fizzled out in less than a month. He quit exercising. What went wrong? Well, the words and phases he used were self-defeating. He started by saying, “I NEED TO lose some weight.” His statement may be factual, but the trouble is that words like I NEED TO, MUST, HAVE TO, SHOULD, or OUGHT TO automatically trigger a response of RESISTANCE. After all, we don’t like to do what we HAVE TO. We don’t like to be bossed around and told what to do, even if we are the ones giving the orders! So, rule number one, drop NEED TO and its variants from your self-talk because they are lead weights that hold you back.
Even if Mortimer had said, “I’m going to lose weight,” that also would have been self-defeating. Why is that? That’s because he would be focusing on the problem rather than the solution. Instead of thinking of what you are now (overweight), think of what you wish to become (slim). Suppose you wanted to quit smoking and decided to repeat several times a day, “I will quit smoking! I will quit smoking! I will quit smoking!” What would that accomplish? The only thing it would do is make you think MORE about smoking and increase your craving.
So, rule number two is, rather than focusing on what you DON’T WANT, focus on what you DO WANT. The importance of this rule cannot be overstated, for the only things we do are the things we WANT to do. It’s not about willpower, it’s about want-power. So, what is it that Mortimer wants? Did you say he wants to lose weight? No, that’s the wrong answer. He doesn’t want to LOSE weight because that involves the perception of LOSING the pleasure of eating. It also brings up an image of the EFFORT (ugh!) we have to make in order to LOSE weight.
Well, then, what is it that he wants? He wants to become more physically attractive, gain confidence, and increase his health, well being, and longevity. Now, those are things to get excited about. They are all GAINS. Those are things to WANT. Now that Mortimer is thinking correctly, he decides to go a step further by dropping the word WORKOUT from his resolution. After all, no one wants to EXERT EFFORT or do WORK.
Compare his original resolution with his new one. His original resolution was, “I need to lose weight, so I’m going to workout several times a week.” Mortimer changed it to, “I want to enjoy life to the fullest, so I’m going to take a few HEALTH (or FITNESS or LONGEVITY) BREAKS each week at the gym.” Can you see the dramatic difference? Can you see the change in perception?
Did you see what else Mortimer did? He replaced “several” times a week with “a few” times. Don’t you think repeating something a few times is easier than doing it several times? Many people mistakenly overreach in their resolutions. This leads to failure. It is not realistic to expect go from zero workouts a week to many a week. Going from zero to many is HARD. Going from zero to a few is EASY. And the great news is, as Mortimer discovers how wonderful it feels to take “fitness breaks,” he will automatically be motivated to increase his visits to the gym.
After revamping his perception and thoughts, Mortimer is now in charge of his life. He even changes uncomfortable bodily sensations into positive thoughts. For example, although some newcomers get discouraged and give up because of the aches and pains that follow long, grueling ‘fitness breaks’ on the treadmill or Stairmaster, not Mortimer. On the contrary, he relishes the discomfort because it is a signal that his body is being resculptured, muscles are toning up, blood vessels are widening, his heart is growing stronger, and his general well-being is improving. He even rejoices when he has to slosh through a rain or snowstorm to get to the gym. “Wow,” he says, “the nasty weather will keep half the people away, so I’ll have all the equipment to myself. Besides, only the dedicated members will attend, so by joining them, I prove that I have just as much self-discipline as they do.”
Isn’t it amazing how we can change our lives by changing our thoughts and perception? Sh, if you remain silent for a moment, you will hear the unlimited potential of the New Year beckoning you and softly asking, “What are you going to do about it?”