This is the first time we’re chatting in the New Year, so happy happy New Year to you.
I hope that you had a great end to 2016 and are having a wonderful, beautiful start to 2017.
This is a very active part of the year when we feel motivated, excited, and invigorated about making changes in our lives.
As someone who is always interested in making changes and improving (improvement could be my middle name), I know the whole “resolution” game quite well.
I know the feelings of empowerment and excitement that come when you declare that bold resolution. “This is going to be my year! I’m going to finally have that body I dream about.”
I know the high you ride as you work hard at those resolutions for the first few days, feeling so good about yourself and so hopeful.
I know the fear that creeps in as you watch your willpower waning and old habits weaseling their way back in. NO. This can’t be happening… again.
I know the shame and disappointment that come when you see that bright resolution distancing itself more and more, and those old habits taking over once again. You feel defeated, questioning what the heck is wrong with you.
You’re right back where you started and you feel like a hopeless failure.
I have been there so many times.
I have so many old journals where I oh so eloquently plan out exactly how I’m going to lose the weight, the strict clean diet I will be sure to be able to stick to (why wouldn’t I want what’s best for myself!), and the workout plan that will make me feel so sexy and confident, of course I will stick to it.
I have learned SO much since those days about CHANGE. About how we, as humans, create change. About what really truly holds us back. About the idea of “self sabotage” which doesn’t actually exist (your sabotaging behaviors are actually always doing something “good” for you, believe it or not).
I’ve used my own life as a test kitchen for creating change, and have seen what works and what doesn’t. Of course, I have also watched my clients make miraculous changes in their lives and become entirely different versions of themselves over time.
Change is entirely possible. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s empowering to know that we can, in fact, be the DRIVERS in our own lives and make necessary changes to improve our health and happiness.
The problem is that most of us go about change in the completely wrong way. A way that isn’t INTEGRATED into who we are from the neck down.
We get an idea in our head and go for it, without understanding all of the mental and emotional mechanics that go into how change actually works.
So, I’m going to share a couple of tips for how to actually make changes, new habits, resolutions, whatever-you’d-like-to-call-them, STICK this year.
TIP ONE: GET CLEAR ON YOUR “WHY”:
If I look back on all of the things I’ve “resolved” to do over the years and what I’ve seen my clients resolve to do, there’s a clear distinction between the ones that stick and the ones that don’t:
When the reason we want to create a particular change comes out of LOVE for ourselves, we are far more likely to stick with it than if the reason for change comes from a place of FEAR, or of not being GOOD ENOUGH.
Here’s what I mean:
If someone is genuinely in love with herself and her body, and loves herself so much, she might say, “you know what, I want to feel even better this year, so I am going to try to eat less sugar. I know that my body has a tough time with sugar, and I love my body, so I am going to try to gently cut back a bit. However, I know my mind will feel deprived without any sugar, and cutting it out completely won’t feel good, so I am going to make a real effort to find delicious alternatives that are super satisfying for both my mind and body, and of course… if there’s an amazing dessert somewhere, I’ll still eat it!”
If someone feels not good enough, and has a fearful, distant, conditional relationship with her body, she might say, “I feel so awful in my skin, I hate this extra fat I am carrying around. I want – no, I NEED – to get OUT of this body, I just can’t take it anymore and I am so embarrassed by how I look. I want my body to be really skinny. I want to feel confident. I am going to cut out sugar…that will surely give me the body I want. No more sugar. We’re done. It’s going to be fine, because when I start seeing my body change, I’ll be motivated, I’ll finally feel confident, my willpower will get stronger and stronger, and I’ll just stop craving it. Bye bye sugar.”
See the difference? The first scenario is someone reducing sugar out of LOVE for herself, and the second scenario is someone cutting out sugar because she is SCARED of her body, how she looks, and not being good enough.
A key difference here too is that in the first scenario, the woman knows herself well enough to know that cutting out sugar cold turkey just won’t work for her mind. She figures out a way to create change that is INTEGRATED with her entire being.
The second woman just doesn’t understand that cutting sugar out cold turkey, from a place of FEAR, will likely make her feel extremely deprived, and the part of her that is in charge of making sure she feels happy and free, will rebel.
Those of us who make decisions like in the second scenario are unlikely to be able to stick with that change for the long term. It just doesn’t work.
I could go through so many examples here, but here’s the bottom line:
Get HONEST with yourself around why you are making a particular resolution or creating a new habit.
Is the root of the reason coming from a place of fear? Of not being good enough? Of thinking there’s something wrong with you and wanting to fix that?
If so, I would highly recommend rethinking it. Connect to yourself as a WHOLE, ALREADY GOOD ENOUGH, LOVEABLE human being, and if you were to believe you were all of those things, would that change your resolution? Would it make the resolution more gentle? More loving? More FUN??
If you were to just put on the “I fiercely love myself and am enough exactly as I am” hat for a minute… would that change how you’re thinking about this change?
TIP TWO: CHOOSE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE:
Years ago, I remember reading something in a book that really stuck with me: As humans, we are pleasure driven, and are always swayed toward the path of least resistance. So, if we want to create a new habit, we need to make it as EASY as possible for us.
This idea struck me immediately because deep down, I felt that it was so true.
However, this is contrary to how we typically operate, especially in our goal-driven, fast paced 2017 culture.
We think that we need to do everything the HARD way. That we need to put strict restrictions on ourselves, PUSH THROUGH, buck up, and just put our heads down and forge forward.
But here’s the problem with that:
We like pleasure!
We like fun!
We like things to FEEL GOOD!
That is how we are wired, at our core.
Instead of working WITH that, we are SO hard on ourselves all the time!
LONG WORK DAYS.
Insert very very very serious face emoji. (lol)
If you want a resolution to stick, your best bet is to ask yourself “how can I make this as EASY as possible for myself? How can I make this ENJOYABLE, maybe even FUN?”
This has been the trick I’ve used to be able to stick to a lot of new habits in my life over the years. I always brainstorm ways to make it as EASY as possible.
I could go through countless examples again, but here’s one of my most recent…
Ew! I know, so annoying.
So of course my dentist has been telling me forever “Jamie you really need to start flossing daily.”
I know, I know.
But it’s so annoying! I don’t have any patience and standing there flossing every day just sounds dreadful.
But this year, I personally felt like I needed to start flossing, and I said to myself “enough is enough Jame. You NEED to start doing this.”
I racked my brain for how I could possible implement this daily flossing habit in a way that felt do-able. It took me a few days but then I finally came up with a jackpot idea.
So I absolutely love showers, and could dilly dally in a hot shower for way too long, so I thought, while I am already hangin’ out in the shower daydreaming and never wanting to get out, why don’t I floss in there? It gives me an excuse to take those long showers and it doesn’t add any time to my day or routine.
I found my path of least resistance.
So now, as I daydream and procrastinate getting out of the shower every day, I am at least doing something productive for my dental hygiene 🙂
It has worked like a charm. For the first time in my life, I am a daily flosser. After fighting it for decades, it suddenly feels so easy because first, I felt like I actually really WANTED to do this for my health (instead of someone just telling me to) and second, I found the path of least resistance.
This is a small example (flossing) but I have applied this same methodology to much bigger goals and habits over the past few years, and it works the same way.
Work WITH your desire for ease and pleasure, and you’re way more likely to stick to it.
So those are my two pieces of advice for you as you think about changes and habits you want to create in 2017.
GET CLEAR ON YOUR WHY and be sure it is coming from a place of LOVE for yourself.
CHOOSE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE, knowing you are wired for pleasure and ease.
And for the record, it’s also okay to not make any resolutions! I didn’t this year, personally, because it just didn’t feel right this year. I am always moving through changes as I feel I need to make them, and just didn’t really feel the whole “it’s a new year, I am going to change X Y and Z right now” thing this year.
So, whatever floats your boat, my dear.
In the comments, I would love to hear… are there any goals / resolutions / habits you are working on right now? How can you choose the path of least resistance to get there? What’s your WHY?
I am wishing you so much self-acceptance, happiness, and JOY in 2017.