Albert Edison’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This certainly holds true for making New Year’s resolutions. Why do we keep making the same resolutions each year knowing that we didn’t keep them the year before and the year before that?
According to researcher, Richard Wiseman 88% of all those set resolutions from half of America and probably lots of other people in the world fail. He estimated that 156 million failed resolutions each and every year. Yes, that is insanity!
To disarm the insanity of making resolutions that will not stick consider making them from a mindful place. This differs significantly from a half-hearted attempt that is driven by the shoulds of what you think you should be striving to change.
Find a Tranquil Environment
The first step in making mindful resolutions is to find a tranquil environment where you can quiet your mind and feel at peace. What this looks and feels like will differ for everyone.
Once you are in your tranquil environment, take a few deep breaths in, hold your breath for the count of three, and slowly exhale. Repeat this pattern of breathing for at least five rounds. This helps to center you and quiet the “Monkey Mind”.
Move into Curiosity
Now that you have centered yourself, get curious about what brings on the behaviors and attitudes that are interfering with your well-being. For example, you may begin to notice that you have a pattern of overeating when you are feeling stressed, unloved, or bored. Maybe you notice that you tend to use TV to numb out from the fact you hate your job or home life.
Gaining Clarity and Getting Specific
When you have some clarity about what is underneath the behavior and attitudes that are negatively impacting your well-being you can begin to form some New Year’s resolutions. The more specific you can be the greater the probability you will keep your New Year’s resolution. Instead of setting a resolution of losing 50 lbs in 2014, you could set your intention of becoming aware of your feelings when you are overeating. If you stay with your feelings you may notice that I eat when I’m stressed. So, you could then learn stress management techniques to lower your stress level which will help to break the cycle of overeating. You could couple this with nutritional counseling. These are insightful ways to help you keep your resolution to lose weight.
Visualize and Feel
Another method to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions is to visualize yourself adopting the resolutions. See yourself keeping your resolutions and the positive impact they have on your life. You could visualize yourself exercising at your local gym versus veg out on the couch. See how toned you are looking, how your clothes are now fitting you. From there, connect to the feelings you have when you visualize the results of exercising. Do you feel more energized, feel happier, and maybe even feel sexier?
This process activates the Reticular Activating System (RAS) of the brain to tune into external stimuli that can help you move closer to your intentions. The RAS can’t distinguish between a real event and a contrived reality. We can exploit this weakness to program it to seek out stimuli in our environment that resonate with our goals.
To further activate the RAS, create a vision board of how your life will look and feel as you commit to your New Year’s resolutions. Post it where you can see it on a daily basis.
Prioritize your Resolutions
It is in your best interest to prioritize your resolutions. Which one on your list has the greatest impact on your well-being? This is the one to commit to. When you feel that you have truly integrated the change you desired move on to the next one. In any given year, only concentrate on a few.
Awakening to a mindful approach in making New Year’s resolutions will enhance the probability of your success. Embrace Gandhi’s suggestion, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.