January 02, 2016

The Secret to Keeping New Year's Resolutions

I suppose that you have heard the joke : How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb ?  One - if the light bulb really wants to change !  In a nutshell, that joke expresses the key for keeping not only New Year's resolutions but for making significant changes anytime.  

At this time of year, many people want to make a fresh start and set goals which will improve their life.  Unfortunately, although many folks sincerely want to make changes,  in fact, there are significant and sometime unconscious inner conflicts which prevent real change from occurring.
Before attempting to take on difficult changes like losing weight, working out more, quit smoking or drinking less, you must first identify and address factors which could sabotage you efforts.  A good way to do this is to ask oneself : Do I really want to change ? 
Often people attempt changes for reasons other than a personal desire. They may have been told by a doctor or a spouse that they should  make changes but a sense of obligation is rarely a sustaining motivation.  In fact, being told that you have to do something, more than likely than not, creates a sense of resentment which will undermine and ultimately prevent your success.  Unfortunately, we often focus on the reasons for change rather than understanding and taking seriously the reason we don't.
For example, if you know that cigarettes are harmful and you pledge to quit but  you also have come to rely on cigarettes break as providing a chance to relax, just stopping will be very difficult.  What is important here is to understand the reasoning behind not wanting to make a change.  In the case of smoking, the issue is often, what will you do to relax in stead of smoking ?   In other words, people cling to bad habits because they provide some thing valuable.  A lasting change will only happen when a substitute can be found  in which you have confidence.
So, as you look forward to the new year and think about your new year's resolutions and the changes you want to make, don't just jump in without looking at what is in the pool. Taking a little time to understand yourself and your bad habits can help you plan a strategy which will both address and replace the function of the thing you are trying to get rid of as well as gaining the advantages of the improvements that you seek.
Happy New Year ! 
Rev. Michael Heath, 1 2 2016  

To Archives