New Year's Resolutions don't work. Here's what does.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions every year? How long does it take for you to break them? Six weeks … a month … a week? Most of us are quite aware that new year’s resolutions are a joke. We need an alternative.
Luckily, the alternative exists.
Most of us really don’t last more than two weeks at our New Year’s resolutions. In fact, statistics say that only 8% of us actually follow through with them. We have a list of goals that we are going to do. Oh, yes, we will lose weight, work out more, eat better, do that thing we hate, avoid that thing we love …
Except no, we won’t.
Practically all New Year’s resolutions are abandoned and forgotten long before Valentine’s Day rolls around, leaving us frustrated, disappointed and convinced that we will never succeed at our goals.
The Problem Lies Within Us
Of course we’re the problem, which we knew already, right? Except that most of us aren’t aware of how and why we’re the problem.
The problem is that our actions reflect the image that we have of ourselves, and our image of ourselves reflects our thoughts and words.
Can you see how that works?
Let’s try it again:
Our actions reflect our image of ourselves which reflects our thoughts and words.
This evening my friend Olivia and I were talking about weight loss and exercise. Amid plenty of laughter, we both admitted that we are going to be happy, chubby old ladies enjoying our cookies and hot chocolates together because we're the type of women who enjoy foods we shouldn't and don't enjoy exercise as much as we should.
Olivia and I do not have mental images of ourselves that include working out, eating low fat salads and kale chips. (Admittedly, I like kale – I just like it with plenty of full-fat salad dressing. Olivia says chips should be made of potatoes and deep fried.)
We could make all the New Year’s resolutions that we want, but we are not going to resolve ourselves into a state of fit slimness. It just won’t work. Our mental images of ourselves – and our thoughts and words – are completely at odds with that reality.
In order to make any lasting changes, we need to change our thoughts and words … we need to change our image of ourselves … we need to change our actions.
The easiest one to start with is our words.
Come back, I’m not about to go “new agey” on you.
Affirmations are essentially programming language for our brains. We use our words to rewire our thoughts. (Our words change our thoughts, which change our image of ourselves, which changes our actions.)
The Bible tells us to avoid corrupt (that is, non-useful, non-edifying) words, and that is one of the first steps we need to take to make lasting changes.
“You’ll never make it without me.”
“Without a degree, you’re nobody.”
“Who exactly do you think you are, anyway?”
“Maybe you could have done this if you were younger.”
“You’re not the type of person who does things like that.”
We hear so much of this, and it works on our minds, tearing down our intentions and goals. What we need to do then, is rewrite the negative messages we hear (and you know yours – you likely hear them looping over and over again every time you attempt something new).
I am achieving my goals.
My education and experience are perfect for where I need to be right now.
I am a powerful, capable person.
My age is an asset.
I am the type of person who does ….
Can you see where I’m going with this? Rewrite your negative messages into positive, uplifting reminders of the person you really are, and put them in a place where you can read them regularly. Work at stopping the negative thoughts before they take root.
Resolutions don’t work because they are generally at odds with our mental images of ourselves. So change that image – and we do that, we change that image, by starting with our words.
My first step toward successful weight loss? I need to change my words, my thoughts and then my mental image of myself because every time I tell my brain that I just can’t resist sugar and fat, my brain listens and helps me become that person.
A good friend and I were talking about this. She said, “Oh, I get it. I need to stop saying that I’m a magpie and I like pretty, shiny things, and I should start saying that I appreciate pretty jewelry. I can see that working.” She needs to get her mind to the point where she is just not the type to grab $50 in costume jewelry at flea market in order to find the one piece she actually likes.
It seems simple and almost too easy, doesn’t it? Actually, it isn't easy at all, but it is pretty simple.
Start speaking about yourself – and thinking about yourself, but if you speak it, you’ll start to think it – as the type of person you want to be.
My Affirmations For 2016
I am the type of person who loves writing (and I do, I really do!) and makes time for it, despite distractions, because I love my online work. I am capable of achieving my dreams and improving the lives of others with my experiences and knowledge. I look forward to my quiet time writing posts, writing my books, and helping others grow and learn, and that pleasure shines through in my writing.
And, incidentally, I find myself effortlessly achieving my ideal weight by eating foods that are good for me because I’m just that type of person.
So tell me what kind of person are you? Instead of beating yourself over the head with should and could and must, tell me who you are – the ideal you, the you that is achieving your dreams and desires. Keep it positive.
Don’t make New Year’s resolutions – they don’t work. Change how you speak about yourself, the way you think about yourself and then the way you imagine yourself, and the life-changing actions will come … because you’ll be that kind of person.
Welcome to 2016. It's going to be a great year.
Welcome to 2016. It's going to be a great year.