New Year Resolutions Don't Work
Recently a reporter from an East Coast newspaper asked me a
couple of questions about New Year's Resolutions. Here are my
answers to these two questions to help us all better understand
how our immunity to change takes our attention away from
following through on those New Year intentions.
1. What are the main reasons why most people's new year
resolutions fail, and what can they do to insure success?
a. People have competing commitments driven by deeply protected
and differing assumptions and beliefs. These competing
commitments pull them in opposite directions and cause them to
spend a great deal of energy attempting to satisfy each.
Examples: I am going to lose 20lbs but I love to eat and
drink...or...I am going to change careers/start a new business
but I really like the security of the paycheck I get from the
job I tolerate today.
b. Most people don't respect their strong immunity to change
and, therefore, don't develop the support systems necessary to
overcome this powerful and dynamic equilibrium to stay the same.
However, there is untapped energy to be found if we can become
less embedded in our immune system that protects us from change.
c. They don't give their brain enough time and energy to relearn
deeply ingrained habits by developing and following a
goal-achieving plan through personal determination, practice,
repetition and the support of others.
2. Why do most people have to reach a crisis point before they
realize it's time for a change?
Most people feel they need a change but have a difficult time
articulating/envisioning what that change looks like and how to
plan to make it real. Developing the ability to respond to
unpredictable change is very hard for most people. Some people
are afraid to develop approaches to move from the more
comfortable status quo. Learning to take risks by starting with
small projects (where the impact of failure is not excessive) is
a good approach to overcome this lack of initiative.
Many need more than self-help books to move forward. Taking
personal initiative to generate innovative ideas and solutions
to problems can require support in the form of a mentor or coach
who guides us in handling important but not yet urgent issues.
When we talk to others, in a safe environment, about the
impending change, we reach clarity on what we must do to move
forward. Building one's capability to accept and effectively
handle change can release energy spent in worry and transform it
into focused action.
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