Resolutions - How To Make Vows Last!
eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resourceWe've
all done it at least once in our lives. We've all made that decision to change
something important about ourselves -- our physical appearance, our way of
relating to people, our activity level, the way we approach our work. We get a
flash in our brain of the way we could look or the life we could lead or the
time we will have, bite the bullet and set a goal of losing 20 pounds or saying
no or exercising more.
Most such efforts, however well intentioned,
don't last. Gradually (or maybe not so gradually) the change you make doesn't
survive the first challenge to the smooth deployment of your new routine.
Thats what could be called the New
Years resolution approach to goal-setting. You get a lightning vision of
how things could be different, you decide on a goal based on what you want to
get away from and invoke brute strength or willpower to act on it. Only a
couple of weeks later the effort has petered out and you're disappointed in
No matter what time of year you try this approach
to change, it usually doesnt last. But that's not the way it has to be.
There is another way. You set the same goal. You make the same changes to your
routines. Only they stick, no matter how many hurdles are thrown into your
path, no matter how much stress you encounter, no matter how many times you are
thrown off track by life's everyday vicissitudes. You pick yourself up and you
go back to working on that goal. Sooner or later you get there.
The difference between repeatedly doomed
resolutions and sustained change isn't something magical that you lack and
everyone else seems to have. No, it's your relationship to the future, says Ti
Caine, a hypnotherapist and life coach in Los Angeles.
New Years resolution-type of goal-setting
usually involves a one-shot connection to the future. To create lasting change,
on the other hand, you need to build a complete vision of the future that you
want so that you can live with it every day of the present.
"Successful people have an ongoing, passionate
connection to their dreams for the future that's more than a passing flash,"
says Caine. "It's a living part of them every day. They see their future in its
wholeness, visualize its extension into all the domains of their life. That
allows them to create lots of mental paths to it.
"They don't have a one-night stand with the
future. They build a relationship with it. That way it becomes a constant
source of hope and motivation."
And that is what keeps them going through
challenges and carries them to success. If hope, motivation and success come
from you having a detailed vision of the future you want, then it makes sense
that the future is something you should invest some mental time in. "After
all," says Caine, "you're going to spend the rest of your life there."
In the course of staying in touch with the
future, you are making frequent contact with your vision of it. "You live your
way into it," says Caine, who has developed a system he calls FutureVisioning
that teaches people how to do it.
This, he emphasizes, is exactly opposite of the
way change-focused programs typically work.
"For example, most people start diet programs
motivated by pain, desperation and a vision of what they dont want,"
Caine points out. "Whether they acknowledge it or not, that sets people up to
resent the very programs they are joining for help."
Much better to create positive goals that
inspires you and sustains motivation. Because how to change is such an
important subject and focusing on the future is such a novel approach that
bears exploration, Psyched for Success will devote the next six issues
to detailing the steps for creating and sustaining whole life success.
Subsequent issues will explore all the facets of lasting change.
- Designing your future -- how to design a future
that inspires and motivates you
- Visualizing your future -- how to tap into the
power of visualization for effective change
- Resolving roadblocks -- how to handle fears
both of failing and of succeeding and attempts at self-sabotage as you move
- Reclaiming yourself, forgiving mistakes -- how
to forgive yourself for past failures
- Choosing your action plan -- how to detail the
steps from where you are to where you want to be (this is the point to begin
your program for change, and not before)
- Sustaining success -- how to keep doing the
things that work
Stay tuned. But between now and next issue,
spend some time imagining the future you really want. And consider finding a
friend who wants to grow with you and make real positive changes in their life,
and start talking together about your futures.
Hara Estroff Marano is Editor-At-Large of
Psychology Today magazine and Editor-In-Chief of Psychology Today's
Blues Buster, a newsletter about depression. An award-winning writer on
human behavior, Haras articles have appeared in publications including the
New York Times, Smithsonian, Family Circle and The
Ladies Home Journal. She lives in New York City.