March 20, 2018
By Marissa Winters, MA, RDN
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”-Socrates.
Did you know that less than 10% of people successfully achieve their New Year’s resolutions? According to one study, about 80% of resolutions fail by the second week in February. So…. how are you doing with your resolutions? Or did you not even make any this year, because, why bother?
Change is challenging because it is uncomfortable. It forces us to practice new behaviors, and a part of us resists this because we don’t like feeling the discomfort that comes with a different approach. The brain prefers the known to the new. Successful change depends on being very clear about what the change will bring to your life. What is the underlying value you anticipate? So often, we don’t take the time to address this. For example, you may want to lose weight because you know you “should”. But the pivotal issue is, how will making this change affect your life? Losing weight because you “should” is not as powerful a motivator as is losing weight so you can feel more confident in your clothes, or be more energetic so you can play with your kids or grandkids, or experience more ease when you move. Being clear on the values supported by your intentioned change gives the framework to measure your behaviors. The feeling you are after becomes your guidepost. Does each action you are choosing bring you closer to the things you value and want to have in your life?
Focusing on the values brings clarity about how you want to feel in your new life. How does You 2.0 feel when you wake up? What does You 2.0 feel when you eat lunch? When you run your end of the day errands? When you get home? When you get in bed? How do you want to feel?
Once you get clear on the feelings you are working towards, put it in writing. No, really - it needs to be expressed, not just kept in your head. Make a vision board (on your phone, on Pinterest, or on paper) or write a description of your perfect day. Look at this tool often to keep yourself focused on where you are heading. People who write things down have a 50% greater success rate than those who carry it in their head. (This includes diet journals.)
By focusing on the feelings you want to generate, you get better at recognizing when your actions are out of alignment with your goals. It is akin to turning a large cruise ship. It takes persistence and a consistent tugging on the wheel to move through the prevailing current. When you notice yourself slipping, keep turning the wheel. Take one minute to step back and remind yourself of your desired goal and the feelings it brings. In a few weeks, you’ll realize that the “old” way of doing things becomes uncomfortable. When that happens, you’re on your way. Congratulations!
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