Since I’d like to actually make some things happen in 2012 I’m not making New Year’s Resolutions. Based on what I know about how the human brain moves from point A to point B and makes lasting change, traditional New Year’s Resolutions are perfectly designed to ensure failure.
First, let’s take a look at the definition:
Resolution – noun 1. the act or an instance of resolving 2. the condition or quality of being resolute; firmness or determination 3. something resolved or determined; decision
All three definitions focus on the resolving, the deciding. That is a great first step. It is similar to the first step in my formula for Daring to Design Your Life Around Your Passion. In my formula, the first step is to declare what you want. I chose declaration over resolution because I am a firm believer in The Field and the connection between energy and matter. When we make a declaration we shift things in the field and activate resources outside ourselves in support of our declaration.
The problem with staying in resolution is that is just the deciding phase. It gives the illusion of doing something while never actually leaving the launch pad. It is action, not the condition of being resolute that creates change.
The next way most New Year’s Resolutions are perfectly designed to guarantee the experience of failure is the way they are worded. This year, even if you just change how your resolutions are worded, you will improve your chances of success.
1) State the Positive: The human brain tends to think in concrete images and doesn’t process the word “No” or “Stop”. For example, if you tell a child, “Stop hitting your sister!” the stop falls off and the image that remains is of hitting sister. The key is to state what you DO want.
For example, the classic “This year I’m going to stop smoking”. The brain doesn’t know what to do with stop. There are all kinds of habits and routines built around smoking. You can’t just stop that. You must replace it with something else. Why do you want to stop smoking anyway? Is it for your health? Is it because you want to be around to see your grandkids? State your Declaration around that. You’ll probably be surprised to find that “stopping smoking” was actually a limiting idea. If you focus your goal on being healthy you’ll probably find yourself discovering a myriad of other ways you can improve your health.
2) Get Clear and Specific: Which of these goals will you know without a doubt you’ve achieved? a) Drink more water. b) Drink 64 ounces of water everyday.
The more clear and specific a goal the more likely it is to stick. If you’d like assistance in honing your resolution into a clear and specific goal post your resolution in the comments.
3) Own The Action Now: If you have applied the previous steps, what was once your resolution to “lose weight” may have become something like “I will weigh 145 pounds.” That’s an awesome start! And you just fell into the most common trap of New Year’s Resolutions.
The brain is much like a computer in that it diligently runs the programs we install as they are written. If your goals are stated in the future as “I will….” or “I’m going to….” your brain will follow orders and make sure those results stay right where you say you want them. In the future. As each future becomes your new now that goal will move up to the new future.
Here’s the cool thing. You can actually use this mechanism to help you. Take a look at this picture of a circle. There’s a piece missing. The brain hates gaps. When there is a gap it gets very busy filling them in. When you state your goals as “I weigh 145 pounds” and you don’t your brain knows there is a gap there. The human brain has bajillions more processing power than even our most advanced computer and it doesn’t know the difference between real or imaginary. Stating I weigh x amount in the present the brain experiences that in the now. But wait! We don’t actually weigh that amount! You have just activated the worlds most powerful super computer finding a way to close that gap. You will suddenly find yourself deciding to skip the scone. Deciding to take the stairs. Picking the salad instead of the fries.
4) Set A Date: Ever notice how much more productive you are when you have a clear and specific deadline? That is a reflection of how the super computer between your ears works. Meeting the goal of weighing 145 pounds by June 1st, 2012 requires a very different set of actions than weighing 145 pounds, you know, sometime, whenever. Set a deadline that is both realistic and creates some urgency.
5) Review Daily: Life happens. Even the most powerful goals can get shoved aside in the chaos of daily life. If you let them. I review my goals every morning before my meditation and every night before I go to sleep. We do some of our best problem solving when we are asleep.
A rocket uses 90% of it’s fuel just getting off the launch pad. In order to support you in your launch of your 2012 goals throughout January the Daily Dare will be focusing on setting goals and getting them off the launch pad.
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Update: Someone shared this on my facebook: The staff at Alice 96.7 get real with their New Year’s Resolutions
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