It’s New Year’s Eve, which means most of us have thought about (and may be currently) changes we would like to make in our lives for 2013. It’s pretty cool that there’s a date on the calendar that sort of represents a time where we can start-over or pick a new direction. Psychologically, the New Year is like a turbo-charged day for change – positive change. I love it! I love to hear and see people really focusing on changing their lives for the better. I wish we were better at that throughout the year, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? We’ll start tomorrow, but how long will we maintain our resolution(s)?
Thousands will make resolutions to exercise and lose weight beginning tomorrow. Studies show that by January 7 a third will have broken their promise to themselves. By Valentine’s Day half of those New Year’s resolutions will have been broken, and 60% by July 4. Geeezzz. That’s not a pretty outlook for us. So why are so many of us failing so quickly with resolutions that are probably very important to us? Well, there’s a number of reasons, but the one I’m going to address here is our reliance on WILLPOWER.
It would be nice to think that we could change some of our worst habits by willpower alone, but that rarely works. The fact is, if the reason you’re trying to change isn’t deeply emotional, there’s a poor chance that you will overcome a significant habit through willpower alone. You know what I’m talking about. When you want a cigarette day after day, it gets tough to just keep telling yourself “NO”, right? Stop drinking, start exercising, think more positively, spend more time with your loved ones….sounds great! You know what else will sound great; having a drink, sitting on your coach, blaming something besides yourself for your situation, and spending more time at work trying to get ahead. In the end, which direction will you be pulled to?
Answer: the one that is most logically AND emotionally appealing.
In the book “SWITCH’, by Chip Health & Dan Health, they compare our logical and emotional sides of ourselves to an elephant and a rider. The elephant represents our emotions, and the rider our logical side. Making resolutions is oftentimes a very logical process. You’ve taken a look at your life and have decided that if you make a specific change you will be better off. This logic – the rider – can steer an elephant through sheer willpower at times. However, if the elephant – your emotion – decides to go another direction…well, you know who should win a battle between an elephant and its rider. Willpower is an exhaustible resource; you cannot rely on it alone for change or you’ll inevitably run into an emotionally charged environment – the elephant – that defeats you because its so big/influential. You want to lose weight, but ice cream or wine at night is just SO enjoyable as you watch your favorite TV show.
To give yourself a better chance at sticking to your resolution(s) this year, build up the emotional connection to why you’re choosing this resolution(s). If exercising regularly and losing 20 pounds is your goal, think long and hard about how you will feel if you don’t lose the weight. Think about how much better you’ll feel after exercise and after the weight loss. How much more confident will you be? How much more attractive will you be? How much more healthy will you be…versus the alternative? REALLY build an emotional case for change. Once you’ve got that captured, if you can figure out how to keep that foremost in mind on a daily basis, you’ll have great chance of keeping this year’s resolution(s) all year long.
Best of luck!!!