I really didn’t plan on writing about resolutions. I never make them and actually just have gotten away from setting a “date” for change altogether. I personally feel like setting January first as a date for big changes is a recipe for failure for most people.
“A 1989 study by John C. Norcross of the University of Scranton shows that 77 percent of resolvers had been able to keep their commitments “continuously for one week,” and follow-up research by Norcross in 2002 put the figure at 71 percent for one and two weeks. That means that about 25 percent of us don’t stick with it for seven measly days.” This is from the The Washington Post, who did an extensive article with studies showing percentages on failure and success for resolutions. You can see the article in it’s entirety here (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/01/07/its-january-7-and-a-quarter-of-us-have-already-abandoned-our-new-years-resolutions/) so I will let the stats come from that reliable resource.
I had set a couple resolutions in my time back in my teens and in college to quit smoking, and I still remember the overwhelming feeling of disappointment when I didn’t stick with it. Self-loathing was not what I needed at that time when I wasn’t doing well in school, wasn’t eating right or taking care of myself. I eventually did end up quitting smoking, partying and started eating real whole food…but it came on my terms and not by some universal date on a calendar when everyone else was trying to make changes.
You may be asking “How do you know when you are ready?” Change should come with instincts and intuition as our guide. The problem is people are listening to the mind and not the signs from the body. Our mind tries to run the show. How do people end up in debt, cheating on spouses, gaining weight etc? One reason is because they are listening to the wrong messenger.
Let’s look at the difference between the mind and instincts and see which one we are usually paying attention to.
Mind: “Just have one more brownie. You can go to the gym tomorrow.” Instincts: “I am not even hungry and already had one which was really sweet and plenty for me.”
Mind: “Just go out with him one more time….maybe you will like him better this time.” Instincts: “I had nothing in common with him and he gives me the creeps.”
Mind: “You can get those $150 jeans on your credit card and pay it off later.” Instincts: “You are already in debt and Christmas is coming up. You don’t need them anyway.”
It’s about trusting yourself to make decisions that are in line with your beliefs and the direction you want to go. The problem, is that listening to instincts is a lost art. With everything we have available to us now (gadgets to count our steps, apps to tell us if we have eaten too many carbs, tools to tell us what essential oils will benefit us (this one blows my mind) why would we bother listening to OURSELVES? So while this article has veered south of resolutions as a topic, I am hoping I am steering you more in the direction of a process for change that makes sense and may even lead to success.
So the first step to making lasting change is dialing in with yourself. Find a space where asking these questions allows you to receive the answers your instincts and intuition are trying to give you. When you have a few minutes to yourself without interruption, investigate the reason you are seeking change. Ask yourself some key questions when making big decisions that will change your life. For example, a person who may want to lose weight might ask herself some key questions instead of just signing a contract for a gym she may never go to. Questions that lead to self-discovery and true solutions for stress free goal setting might look like this:
1. Does this feel right in my gut? (It’s called gut instinct for a reason)
2. Do I feel stressed or tense and tight when I think of making this change?
3. Do I have support for when I feel challenged with this change?
4. Am I making this change for myself or someone else?
5. What is the best case outcome from this decision? The worst? Can I deal with the success or disappointment of either outcome?
Don’t look at a date until you have listened to your instincts first. Setting a date makes sense once the reason and goal have been identified and it feels right. While this may not have been the resolution piece you were seeking (how to make it easier, how to succeed etc) I am hoping it gives you permission to set goals based on your own deep feelings about what will work for you. Success comes from listening to ourselves first.
Wishing you much happiness and joy in 2016!