New Year’s Resolutions, Time to Make the Change
Well, it’s the first of February, and odds are that any awesome goals for change we made for ourselves a month ago have already slid off our awareness behind the bad habits we said we wanted to kick this year. Hand me that bag of Dorito’s will ya? BoJack Horseman is on.
But, hang on! The Chinese New Year is upon us! Maybe we can reboot and get back on track.
What’s going on with the mental pushback we get from our lazy egos that make us sit on the couch, instead of going for a walk; grabbing a quick bite instead of cooking a nourishing meal; mindlessly scrolling social instead of reading actual books; or going to the soul-sucking job instead of getting a new one?
Realize that “slow and steady” is the hard way
Pick up James Fell’s new book called, “The Holy Sh!t Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen In An Instant”. In it, he describes the phenomenon of the eureka moment, in which a flash of insight can create a more powerful, longer lasting, and ultimately more impactful life change.
He argues that you can seed your mind to harvest these moments and reap the rewards of being gung-ho for your desired life change, instead of grudgingly going about instilling habits. His anecdotal case studies are backed up by real science and, of course, his own direct experience. (And occasionally bawdy humor.)
Seek out those that have made the change you want to make
Reconnect to your goals by listening to and reading the stories of others that have done what you want to do. If your goal is to lose weight, make sure you are seeding your subconscious mind with success stories of people that made that change and the narrative behind their success. Want to radically change your career? Find those audiobooks and listen to them as you go about your day. If it’s to buy a boat and sail around the world, find the YouTube channels, audiobooks, and stories that will let your ego let go of its comfort zone.
The reason we struggle so much with our own inability to change is that the status quo is what is normal and comfortable to our egos. The ego doesn’t care if you thrive, are happy or fulfilled. Its whole job is to keep you alive on the planet. We need to teach our minds that the thing we want is “normal” and won’t cause impending death or worse…looking stupid to someone else.
Make small investments of your time
Be willing to meet your epiphany moment halfway by taking action. If you are not quite there with your blast of enlightenment, make small commitments to your goals. It doesn’t have to be more than 15 minutes a day, which anyone can spare. Invest in your goals in small, regularly scheduled time, if possible.
Calendar time for yourself
Decide how to best get on your own calendar. If you can spare 15 minutes in the morning to read a book over coffee, do it. Have 15 minutes before bed? Meditate. If you can take a 15-minute walk during lunch to take a walk, do it. If you can find 15 minutes every afternoon when you get home to check in with your budget, do it. You will be surprised how much investing short bursts of time will start reprogramming your mind to accept your desired new ability, skill, or habit without it feeling like it is going to take over your entire life.
Use positive psychology
Most of us (probably all of us) are going to battle against that little toddler voice in our heads that puts on a tantrum every time we want to make any sort of change, no matter how small. You’ll get every excuse in the book why you can’t get out of bed and exercise a bit, why it’s “too hard” to learn to manage money, why “it’s pointless” to look for a new job, and why “it’s a waste of time” to meditate. I get it. It’s a tried and true tactic of the ego to maintain total control. But that ego is making us miserable and needs to shut its pie hole.
Watch out for that little voice that is trying to maintain the status quo. Our egos will to try and fight back against any perceived threat to its dominance. It doesn’t matter if the goal is to quit doing something you know is a detriment to your health, sanity, and financial stability, that little sucker is going to try and keep you stuck. Because, heck, we’ve lived this long, right? Why change a good thing? (Even if it’s a terrible thing.)
Get your rebuttals ready
Make a list of all the ego’s objections and pre-load your comebacks. If you really want to get up in the morning to exercise and the little toddler goes, “nnnoooooooo, I want to stay in bed!” What are you going to say to get up? How about, “okay, no gym today, but let’s get up, make coffee and dance in our pajamas for 15 minutes to wake up and warm up?” Or, “remember how good you felt after working out Monday? Let’s do it again. You’ll be glad.” Or, “Hahaa, I wore my gym clothes to bed, put your shoes on, sucker!”
I don’t wanna do the budget…Well, I’m ready to be debt free; feel some confidence about money; get some breathing room financially, so we’re doing this for 15 minutes
I don’t wanna meditate…Well, I want to feel calm by the end of the day; I’m ready to be more thoughtful with my responses; I’m ready to let other people be okay with their emotions, so I need to be okay with mine, so we’re doing this for 15 minutes
I don’t wanna get a new job…Well, I’m ready to make more money; for a shorter commute; be challenged at work, so we’re going to take 15 minutes to fill out our Pepelwerk talent profile.
Find ways to overcome objections with 3-5 benefits. If you’ll notice, all the above examples are phrased with positive-language. The way we overcome objections and present benefits to our egos needs to be framed in a positive way. Show don’t tell. You aren’t going to out-bully your ego anyway. Imagine the perceived benefit in a way that makes you feel good about doing the thing you want to do. Use imagery, not a verbal club.
Barbara Frederickson’s work on the Positivity Ratio points out that you need many more positive outcomes and experiences to overcome negativity bias and negative thinking. To get that many, try to combine both a sales mentality and a little tough love. The point is, that little toddler that lives in all our heads needs to be talked back to and parented. Doing those things and reveling in the glow of accomplishment is part of creating those positive feelings.
Consistency Builds Confidence
If you are struggling with your confidence to pursue your goals, ask yourself how many promises you've broken to yourself. How many times have you said you were going to do X or stop doing Y? And, then you kept doing Y and never even started on X. Pay attention to every time you have sabotaged your own progress by either doubting your own worth or listening to someone that was undermining your faith in yourself. Stop breaking promises to yourself and start following through consistently with action. This will start accumulating positive experiences to lean on when you'd rather find any excuse than to do the things that will move you closer to your goals. Positive experiences are fuel, flaking out is an extinguisher.
We know we need to quit smoking, eat better, and lower our stress levels. Learning to talk back to that voice in our heads that is demanding everything stay as it is (with some level of compassion, now - no need to be an abusive jerk) will help move our thinking patterns into the realm of possibility.
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