How to Make and Stick With a Healthy New Year’s Resolution
As an Idea Implementation Coach, New Years is one of my favorite holidays. It’s one time when many of us take stock, think about what’s really important or what’s really bothering us, and ask the question: “When would NOW be a good time to start doing something about this Idea?”
But many of us are afraid of New Year’s Resolutions, because we’ve been there and done that, and still have these unwanted habits and unfinished projects. So let’s start off on the right foot this year, and set you up to succeed with your Big New Year’s Idea. And let’s center that idea around health and wellness!
What are the biggest obstacles people say are in the way of their Big Idea?
~ Overwhelm 1: too much to do, not enough time
~ Overwhelm 2: too much to do, don’t know where to start
Though these are legitimate ‘surface’ reasons, they are not the major reasons resolutions fade away. The main reasons are subconscious, operating below the surface of your mind, sabotaging all your attempts to start with a clean slate.
Let’s take exercise, a popular New Year’s Resolution Idea. You wake up January 1, filled with energy, and say: “This time, I’m going to do it!” You strap on your new running shoes and take a brisk, cold run around the block. Great! Next day, maybe you do it again. Then you go back to work, the weekend is over, life intervenes, the running shoes sit in a corner sucking their laces.
And internally what’s going on is you are beating yourself up with a constant chatter of “I’m a failure,” “I’m no good.” Those thoughts get literally wired together with the emotion of overwhelm and despair, creating a neuron pathway that fires virtually automatically.
Then this emotion/thought pairing gets wired together with the “I’ll try this again” of the New Year’s Resolution. So you’re thinking “I’ll try this again,” but your subconscious is going “I’m a failure, this will never work.”
This is the habit of thinking that’s wired in the brain, and of course it is very difficult to succeed in this negative environment. These things are firing subconsciously and we’re not even aware of them. We think we’re doing the right thing because we’re thinking, “I really, really really want this.” But the patterns gets established very early in our lives, and we just carry them forward subconsciously into every new situation until we learn ways to institute a new habit of thinking.
So let’s go back a little bit and look at what we know about making an idea stick. This will be a radical concept for some, but what makes a New Year’s resolution or any Big Idea stick is to allow yourself to be pulled into your goal, rather than be dragged or pushed into it. This is especially true of health goals, where dedicated effort is needed every day, all day.
One of the ways you can begin creating your New Year’s Resolution in a positive mode, is to work for a whole month just on establishing the habit of thinking, “I am fit and healthy.” This way, as you imagine yourself living this resolution you feel excited and enthusiastic. And so you get the emotion going, the excitement and the energy, as well as the thought “I am a vital and healthy person,” for example, firing together naturally before putting into practice the daily health routine. You are then starting to take your actions from a positive place. And when you begin the routine, your mind and subconscious are already ahead of the game.
If you ask someone why they don’t exercise, most people will say, “I don’t have the time.” And of course, this is the fall back excuse. What we’ve already learned from looking at the habits of thought is that there may be any number of other thought patterns running that are behind the lack of initiative. So you need to start small, start with simple actions that you can take even if you don’t yet “feel like it.” Maybe you don’t have an hour to exercise, but do you have 10 minutes? Everyone has 10 minutes.
Once you establish the thought of “I am a healthy, energetic and fit person that loves to eat right and do my exercises,” with the emotion habit of feeling excited and enthusiastic, then you can say, “OK, what is one 10-minute action I can take here and now?” Maybe you’ll put on music and dance, or sit and do deep breathing. You will ask yourself, “What is it that I want to do?” You begin to listen to many other levels of your consciousness to decide what actions to take. And eventually, your actions become in line with the vision of where you want to be, what you want to accomplish, that it becomes second nature.
So this year, start your Resolution from the inside out. Instill a new habit of thinking and feeling before you take action, and your actions are more likely to lead to success.