Well it is that time of year again, the time of year we start talking about the resolutions we are going to make in the New Year.
For years I would make a resolution that I would give up smoking. I made that resolution nearly every year for over 20 years, sometimes my resolution would last a week, on most occasions it would not even last the length of the New Years Eve party. I did give up smoking eventually, I did not do it around New Year though, I gave up on 13th January 2016 after making a plan that I came to after creating a goal with a compelling vision. I created a towards goal rather than an away from goal. At the time I did not realise that is what I was doing. What I did know was that every time I had attempted to give up previously I had worked out what I wanted my life to look like once I had stopped smoking. The goal was just to stop smoking (an away from goal). The problem with away from goals is that the desire to keep going decreases after you have stopped, the motivation to change your habits is just not sustained.
If you want to make a change to you life that is sustainable it is important to know what you want to achieve and most importantly why you want to achieve it. The why is what is going to sustain you when it gets tough. For me to stop smoking I created an image of me in my 60s playing with my grandchildren in the garden. I knew I could not be certain that I would be healthy enough to do this, if I continued to smoke the amount I was. If I wanted to increase my chances of being able to play football and hide and seek with my grandchildren I would have to stop smoking. This was my starting point. I then made a plan and set a date. It was hard but I succeeded because I always had that compelling vision in front of me.
When I think about this success now, I realise that the secret of that compelling vision was that it is congruent with my core values of courage and usefulness. Being a fun grandparent means I am useful to my family, as being a supportive father to my children is now. So I had the courage to tell myself that the lifestyle I was leading was not sustainable with being useful, therefore by continuing to smoke I was going against my values.
So there it is, if you want to make a resolution ask yourself what you value in your life, does the thing you want to change (being overweight, smoking, drinking too much, stuck in a job you hate) get in the way of that value? If it does what would your life look like after you had made the change? Make this as real as you can, create a picture of this life in you mind. This is important as it will keep you going when it gets tough. Once you have you goal and vision, then it is really important to make your plan. Think about what is going to be in your plan, talk your plan through with somebody, make sure you trust them and that they will not try to advise you on how best to make your plan. Ask yourself when you will know when you have achieved your goal and how you will celebrate your success.
Most importantly, don’t be a slave to the date, make your change when you want to make it, and do it because it is important to you.
Trust yourself you do have it in you to change your life.