Every January, there is a lot of attention placed on goals and becoming a “new you.” We commit to getting up earlier, eating less, working out more, keeping the house clean, quitting some bad habit or another. There is nothing wrong with this. January first is a great marker to look at the year behind you and also look forward to the next.
But as we know, studies show that most New Year’s resolutions are already fizzling out about two or three weeks in.
Why does this happen? First we need to look at the reason we make these resolutions in the first place.
As with everything else we do, we are driven by desire. Most people think the desire is to be thinner, to have a nicer looking house or to make more money.
But the real desire is ALWAYS a feeling. We want to feel a certain way, and we think that changing our behavior is going to get it. Because if we are thinner we will feel more confident. And if our house is clean we will feel less grouchy and more in control. And if we have more money, for sure we’ll be happier! Right?
So we start these goals and when we don’t see results right away and, instead of making us feel happy, working on our goals feels a whole lot like UNCOMFORTABLE, we give up.
When we try to change our thoughts and feelings by changing our ACTION, we are fighting against ourselves and we end up so frustrated.
But luckily for you, I’m going to share the secret to learning how to truly take action in your life, and you can start any day you want!
Here it is: identify the feeling you think reaching your goal will give you, and just feel it now!
Let me explain. We’ll use the weight loss example because it is really common.
Sally has an ideal weight number in her head. The magic place where she can finally love herself and her body. Of course she isn’t there yet, so she’s great at seeing all her flaws and failures. She is great at hating her body.
When she looks at the number on the scale and her thought is “ I hate how big I’ve gotten!” what feeling do you think that creates? Probably something like defeat. When she tries to lose weight from a feeling of defeat, it’s going to be hard to sustain anything. So Sally’s result is she tends to hate herself, no matter what size she is. Because she can always find reasons to. I’ll write this out in a Model for you.
Circumstance: my weight (# lbs)
Thought: I hate how big I’ve gotten!
Action: yo-yo diet, start exercising. Quit exercising. Make excuses. think negative thoughts about not following through
Result: I hate myself
This cycle is so common! We think we can hate ourselves into change. We think if we love ourselves as we are, we will have no motivation to do anything.
Now, most of us at this point will want to rush to change the thought right away. But I’m going to ask you to pause. I want you to look at yourself with compassion. I want you to step back and observe your own thoughts. Take some time to be curious and ask yourself “WHY?” Why does this thought come up for you? Where did it come from? And how long have you been practicing it? The brain is all about conserving energy, so it’s going to keep giving you ideas on repeat. It takes less energy, right?
Doing this is so powerful. It changes everything when we can start to see what is really going on in our head, without judgement, just understanding. And love for yourself.
So maybe Sally looks at herself and realizes she has internalized comments her friends used to make about her weight. And she believed them and took their words and repeated them over and over all these years.
Of course she hates her body! Her brain has been serving her up these thoughts for so long! But she doesn’t want to hate herself anymore.
Now we can talk about changing our model intentionally.
Our girl wants to feel confident. Confidence will drive her to action so much better than defeat! Confidence will help her as she makes changes on her journey to lose weight.
Thoughts always cause our feelings, so I’m going to ask you to fill this in for her. What thoughts can she think to give her the feeling of confidence??
I’m going to start with a baby step thought for her.
C: my weight (# lbs)
T: It’s possible I can love myself and lose weight
A: follow my plan
R: I love me and lose weight
When we change your thought and feeling, changing the action becomes so much easier. So that’s the secret, guys!
No matter what your goals are, find a feeling that is going to drive the action you want, and pick a thought that will give you that feeling. You can feel how you want to right now! Be kind to yourself, stop beating yourself up and go for it!
I’m not promising that everything will be easy sunshine and unicorns. Anything that stretches us is going to make us uncomfortable. But coming at it from an emotion like confidence, determination, or excitement is going to keep us going, no matter what challenges come before us.
I can’t wait to hear what feeling you choose and what goals you get working on!