Are You Making the Same Promises to Yourself This Year As You Did Last Year?
This is a mean question. I mean, we are all so excited to forget about last year’s fails and start fresh – and we know in our hearts it can work, only it rarely does. And I don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm for your dreams, certainly NOT. So we make our new year’s resolutions and vow to really do it this year, and we mean it. We really, really mean it. Then how come we are making the same promises we made last year? Didn’t we mean it then, too?
The answer is simple, something stopped us last year (and maybe the year before that too). There are so many possible things that can get in the way of our success, too many to list, but the one universal truth is something got in the way and somewhere along the way, we stopped working towards our goal.
If we look at the consistent fails of most people, there are a three predictable missing components when things get tough.
3 Most Common Missing Structures for Success
#3. No real plan for accomplishing the goal — we tend to fly by the seat of our pants, even when starting a business, we tend to just grab our first customer and start running. We will get to the accounting, the marketing plan, the team development later… what’s important now is cash flow! Right?
#2. No clear picture of what we are really aiming for? We have a good idea of what we want, but many times we will not actually write out or draw, or really clarify the exact goal we want and how it will be when we have it. This may seem like visioning or some woowoo practice to you, but studies have shown over and over that having a crystal clear picture of your goal is one of the most important things you can do to keep on track — Make it so real you could taste it. I love to collage, so that is my way, but create something that you can remind yourself what your goal is (this is your WHY). If you write it out, read it once a week. If you draw, hang it on the wall. If you collage, like I do, hang it on the wall.
#1. No Support —
We tend to go it alone — a huge mistake. Creating alone is one thing, trying to take on a big goal, one that you have failed at before and is apparently really important to you, (just guessing, since you are recommitting to it), yet we do not think to change our behaviors. Driving it alone is great when we are starting out but it is way too easy to give up. Too easy to cut corners, not notice the lack of progress or enthusiasm. No one to celebrate the wins (sometimes just showing up is the win!) Going it alone is simply a recipe for failure, so get on loud speaker about your goal and ask for your posse to remind you when you falter! If this is your bugaboo, it is a behavior you can change!
You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – Says Who?
It has been said for eons, that once we are past a certain age that we cannot learn new things or ever change. This has been found out to be completely wrong thinking and scientifically proven that our brains are quite elastic, healable, and can learn for our whole lives. Books such as the Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, celebrating its 10th year in print, and Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, also out for about 10 years, are written by medical doctors who have shown that human beings can learn anything even after 20 years old, even after 50 years old.
But we do not teach behavioral training in school. We do not teach it anywhere really except the military, it is considered advanced learning even then. Thus,we are left to tackle our own self-defeating behaviors all on our own. From bad habits to unconscious repetitive behaviors which are sometimes hard to see what they are, we are left to figure out this all by our lonesome.
So How Can We Change Our Behavior After So Many Years?
Changing our behavior is not hard, but that does not make it easy. It takes consistency more than anything… keep going and do not give up until you have it —
Instead of attempting to stop the old, start a new practice that moves you toward your goal. It is important to note that none of this is important without your goals. Our need to sleep in 4 – 5 times a week is only a problem if we are committed to early morning goals. Otherwise, sleeping until 10 am is not a problem for anyone.
Let me give you an example from my own life. A couple of years ago I stopped drinking for a year. For most of my adult life, with the exception of about 8 years of pregnancies and nursing babies, I drank wine. A couple of glasses a night. Not a problem really. Never drunk, never out of hand. But yet, I knew that it was something that I had fallen into rather than planned. So, as an experiment, I decided to stop drinking for a year. I chose a year because I knew that I could power through any shorter amount of time and not get the lessons possible, so I needed to take on a time period where I would have to actually not be a drinker anymore.
The first 3 weeks I was completely aware of how much I wanted to drink every evening. The nuances of my habits started to become much more clear to me. Normally, as I was making dinner, I would pour myself a glass of wine to transition from my work day to my evening with my family and cooking dinner while drinking wine and watching a little TV was the trick. So every day I would find myself facing my habit… wine had become my way of relaxing and transitioning my day.
My first insight: I had lost my own ability to just relax without wine–
So, with the help of my husband, I created a question to ask myself when I wanted a glass of wine, “What are you avoiding?” This became my new habit every time I wanted to drink a glass of wine. The answers were also very useful, but the practice gave me a new habit to develop.
What Really Surprised Me Were All the Benefits I Got That I Never Expected
I am happy to say that it took about 5 weeks for me to stop having daily thoughts about drinking. Then I started saying, “I don’t drink” in response to requests to go out for cocktails, but what really surprised me were all the benefits I got that I never expected. I started to have a renewed power to give and keep my word. I had energy in the mornings, clarity in my thinking, a peacefulness when just being, and focus while sitting and working. Life seemed to flow easier somehow. All from changing a behavior.
This is only one example of what may happen for you. What I can share is that it is worth the effort to gain your strength. For when we make resolutions, we are simply giving our word to ourselves (and sometimes others). If we have no real power we are just hoping it goes differently. The past failures are right there to remind us that we need to do something differently this year. If we don’t we are just hoping and you and your dreams are worth more than that! Giving up on our goal again, that is tragic.
Here are some simple starting points for changing a behavior:
#1 . Start with something very clear.
Like drinking or eating sugar, or gluten. For best results, it needs to be a very black and white result. No gray areas allowed. A good example is getting organized. This is WAY TOO GRAY a goal. It has no finite beginning or end. If clutter and losing your keys are your nemesis, then have Clean kitchen counters or putting everything away EVERY NIGHT — or making places for everything so you know where they are. Remember that these are behavioral habits so you need to be specific and you MUST BE ABLE to ACCOMPLISH IT. We are changing behaviors, not thoughts or feelings. It must be something you can DO, since the habit shows up that way.
#2. Have something at stake.
When I am going to take on changing a behavior I ask myself, “what will be possible if I get this done?” For me having power with my word is critically important — it is my only real power in the world, no trivial matter to me. So that is frequently my “why”. But whatever is your “WHY” should be important enough to you that you will be reminded of who you are when you choose to NOT do what you ALWAYS have done before!
#3. Pray — joking, kind of.
What I mean is ask for help. Have someone on your team that will encourage you to keep your word. Do pray if that gives you strength, but ask a human being too. Sometimes, my husband would just say, “I thought you weren’t drinking” when he could see me considering ordering a glass of wine at a restaurant. Those little nudges were enough for me to say “no thank you” to the wine and be so much stronger for it in the long run. At times, I would hate that he would remind me… but the behavior was the same… no wine.
When You Cannot See Where to Start
When we don’t know where to go or which way to turn, it is time to clean up our lives.
Things you can do, if you are really baffled by where to begin is clean your physical space — file, sort drawers clean closets, finish unfinished things or get rid of them
Everything needs a home, a place to be while you are doing your life —
Scrub your kitchen out clean out the medicine cabinets and under the sink… dig in wherever there is unconsciousness get into it make a dent in your universe.
This brings us back to zero —
cleaning your space is great, and will feel great when it is done, and will give you a solid platform to start to notice your behaviors that sabotage your dreams. Your hidden behaviors will likely even surface while cleaning and organizing your life!
Start Where You Are
Remember that this is important, but it is not significant. You will make mistakes, you will forget, you will resist on your own path to happiness and freedom. Finding a support system is key to your success, so, if nothing else, start a conversation with someone about what you are thinking about, share the article, and start talking to someone else besides yourself, and just get started.
A year from now, you will wish you started today!
For more ideas about Finding Your Power read 3 Most Important Activities for Starting A Creative Business
When I got started as a single mom with 4 kids and no money I was desperate for a coach, but never dreamed I could afford one. That is what compelled me to start Business 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs to begin with… I wanted to give back and support folks who were working for what they loved. Our program starts as low as $37 a month and covers all the basics, with a learn-at-your-own-pace system.
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