Welcome back! 2017 is just around the corner — how crazy is that? I don’t know about you but it seemed like 2016 just flew by! Just yesterday I was making resolutions! Of course, since then I have broken some, struggled with others, and succeeded with, well, with none. *sigh* Now it is time to do it all again! Before I do though, I’m going to take a look at why resolutions tend to fail. If you are deep into your resolving and planning, why don’t you take a minute and join me?
There are some great ideas about the “why” behind failed resolutions and, even better, some solid ideas on how to find success with them! Let’s start with the “whys” first. Psychology Today says that most of the time resolutions don’t stick, it has nothing to do with the person being lazy or weak. Instead, it’s about the brain, a taskmaster that is, at times, less than forthcoming with info. Some of that precious intel is kept behind the scenes, stored in our subconscious. That doesn’t mean the resolution you make every year and break at the same rate isn’t meant to be; it means “rewiring” the brain might need a different approach. US News summed it up perfectly with “Unless you first change your mind, don't expect your goals to materialize. It’s not the horse that draws the cart, it's the oats.”
Another resolution-breaker might be stress. Some quick notes on stress: a stressor is defined as anything requiring a response. Stress is the body’s response to the stressor and how we view the stressor changes how we respond. (Yep, there is “good” stress and “bad” stress (which is what most people will describe when they are talking about “stress”.) If that new exercise class or workout routine is adding one more thing to an already-full plate, it’s going to impact our willpower. If we don’t recognize that smoking/overeating/ whatever is how we manage our stressors, it’s going to be harder to kick that habit, especially when there are added physical and mental stressors because of the change. Let’s face it: all change, even good change that you really want, is a stressor. We can’t change the stressor; we can only change our response which takes us back to the brain.
So, in a nutshell, the “why” behind most resolution failures is the brain. By not taking steps to “rewire” the driving force behind our actions and/or not accounting for the added stress of change, we are almost engaging in self-sabotage. Okay, I can get on board with those ideas. Now what can I do about them?
A great way to start is SMALL. We’re much less likely to succeed with a laundry list of resolutions than with one and, even if that one goal seems daunting, we’re much more able to achieve it in small, manageable steps. Psychology Today gives the example “losing weight is not a specific goal; losing ten pounds in ninety days is.” Thinking about the smallest, most achievable step we can make towards our goal right now is a first step toward success; success is success, no matter how small, and it breeds like rabbits…or dust bunnies!
Now we’ve got a starting place, a destination and the beginnings of our route in place so what’s next? If we want to share our goal with someone supportive, that’s fantastic; if we choose to keep things under wraps for now, that’s just as awesome. Whatever we do, it’s about being present, tracking our progress and celebrating our accomplishments! Paying attention to how we feel physically, emotionally and mentally is an important part of the “rewiring” process; we can’t see what we’re not looking at! Tracking both the progress and the occasional backslide are equally important to our success. Being aware of what surrounds a backslide can help us figure out the “why” behind it. Progress equals victory and even small victories are reasons to feel good. There is nothing like a celebration to make that real (even if that celebration is a happy dance that no one else can see).
A quick recap of the “how to” list:
Think small — a single resolution to focus on, bite-sized pieces, and the most achievable step possible right now
Keep goals reasonable and specific — it’s a journey with a destination (or two or ten…how many doesn't matter as long as the trip itself)
Track and celebrate your progress — share the goal with someone or use a calendar, a journal or an app
Be present — it’s the best tool for success because it helps with the “rewiring” process
Wow…I don’t know about you but I feel ready to start planning my successful journey for 2017! If I could sum up the “how to” list in one word it would be “awareness” so I’m sure my plan will include some #MAssageTime. One of the things I have learned over the years is that massage is an important part of how I deal with stress and one of the tools I use to stay present. What about you? Join us in the comments below with your ideas for success in 2017 and be sure to come in and
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