After years of repeating the same resolution (‘this year I will truly get a Cameron Diaz body’) I’ve worked out it’s futile.
Resolutions don’t work because:
• We make ourselves wrong. Our current state/experience/condition is bad and we dump on ourselves.
• We want to ‘fix’ something. We see ourselves as broken, and need to improve.
• Resolutions require discipline to follow through. Discipline is a finite source of energy - one we also use for decision-making, learning new things, and paying attention. This resource gets drained completely by modern demands, before we even leave the house!
• We have not gone deep enough on the WHY. It’s the only way to get real buy-in. Your inner critic needs compelling reasons to get on board.
• We have not done enough work on the WHO of the resolution. Resolutions, or any commitment to change, requires the creation of a new identity. I used to smoke. I shudder to recall. It has been nearly twenty five years since my last cigarette. When I quit smoking, the first thing I did was decide to be a non-smoker. I wasn’t a smoker who was quitting, I was now a non-smoker.
• We skip the WHY and WHO and go straight to the WHAT of the resolution - the action we are supposed to follow through on. This is the proverbial horse before the cart.
• We self-sabotage. In Immunity to Change, Dr Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey surface one of the key components of why people don’t change: there is a hidden payoff, or counter-intention to NOT changing. Until we deal with THAT, we will self-sabotage every time.
In the quest for super model perfection, I’ve made all those mistakes.
What to do instead
1. Create an amazing picture of what you want to experience/become/achieve. Really feel this. Make it a big bright and wow-factor great. (Instead of rock star thin, I’m going for boundless radiant energy. That is something that truly resonates with me!)
2. Get super clear why this important to you. Keep asking why until your heart quivers a little. (I want to live fully, alive and in love with every moment. *quiver*)
3. Surface your counter intentions (what are the benefits of not changing). Dig in to this a little and see your inner quibbles for what they are. How can you make these better? (I have to drink less wine and clean up my diet a bit more. The way I will make this better: some wine, just a little, sounds better than total abstinence. I’ll try that.)
4. Project forward. If nothing changes, or continues on same trajectory, what does your life look like? (more self-criticism and disappointment). If you do make this change, what will your life look like? (sunshine and laughter) This is what Tony Robbins calls ‘getting leverage’.
5. What identity do you need to embrace? What version of ‘non-smoker’ do you need to adopt? (Radiant energy Goddess!)
6. Set an INTENTION. Nome resolutions with their judgmental nonsense. Intentions set a compass bearing and give you wiggle room to adjust course and tactics as you go.
7. Implement a tiny habit. What is one tiny habit that you can adopt that supports your new identity and intention? (One glass of wine, once per week)
8. Make your intention highly visible. Use an online goal tracker, use phone reminders, do that vision board thing, post-it note the crap out of your office and home. Go for it!
9. Check in and reflect. Set a cadence for reflection. It could be a quick evening review of the day, a weekly assessment of your efforts and progress, a monthly check in, and a quarterly audit. Give yourself some appreciate for effort and acknowledge what is working. If something is not working, make a tiny habit adjustment and experiment again.
If it’s really not working, be honest about your counter intentions - how much of this intention is a SHOULD instead of a MUST? Are you REALLY convinced the benefits outweigh the inconveniences and drawbacks? Make peace with yourself if you are letting go at this point. Life is too short to beat yourself up for mis-hits.
Who are you becoming this year? What strategies have you got in place?
P.S. Why don’t you come and explore a new identity as a socially conscious, generous, savvy business leader? Join us at the Edge of Leadership 28 March 2017.