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Making a Change — and Keeping it!

01. Jan. 2018 by Valerie Walker

Person jumping with sunrise

January is the time when many of us focus on changes we want to make in life, but statistics show that up to 92% of New Year Resolutions fail by February. Top goals for 2018 are no surprise and include losing weight, exercising more, healthy eating, and quitting smoking. Unfortunately, by the end of February that post new year influx of people hitting the gym is already on the wane and juicers have been relegated to the back of the deepest, darkest kitchen cupboard.

So why do so many of us fail to reach the goals we so enthusiastically set ourselves at the start of the new year? Most put it down to a loss of will power, but what is will power really and why are we so remiss at holding on to it? Scientific theories have been put forward supporting the existence of will power depletion, but perhaps it is simpler to not rely on it in the first place and instead take some of the steps below to ensure success.

When considering your goal make sure it is a compelling one. The tendency is to set goals in a negative way, reflecting what you want to move away from rather than a more motivational, towards goal. For example; “I must lose 2 stones” or “I need to stop smoking”. Instead, try setting your goal in relation to your end point - where you want to be or what you want to achieve, for example; “I will eat healthier, so I can enjoy feeling fitter and being more active”.

Avoid the use of negative or limiting language when you are reflecting on your goal. Words such as “must”, “have to”, “can't”, “won't”, “shouldn't”, “should” all have the effect of unconsciously limiting your options. This in turn cranks up the pressure and feels like a loss of control or free-will. It is not surprising then that many of you find yourself spearheading your own mini rebellion which, although it might feel good at the time, quickly reverts to feelings of guilt which in turn creates stress and makes you even less likely to continue along the “must-not”, “have-to” path. Try to use words that are much more positive and focus on the things you “can”, do or “want” to do. “I can eat fruit as a snack” or, “I look forward to walking to work every day”.

Check that the goal is something you want and is not actually based on what others want. How often have you been pressurised into adopting goals others have for you, even when it bears no relevance to what you want as an individual? If this is the case find a way to connect to the goal or, if necessary, wait until it is the right time for you.

Find something to replace your existing habit or behaviour, particularly if, as is often the case, it is firmly embedded in your mind as a reward or pleasure. Thinking of your current behaviour in these terms can narrow your focus to the extent that nothing else matters except achieving that, often short lived, reward. If the positive associations you have with the habit or behaviour are so important to you that the cost of giving it up seems too high, then you will need to find another way of meeting that reward or pleasure first to achieve the success you want.

Embrace the change as a positive. Many of us dislike change of any sort which is largely related to our inherent need as humans to avoid pain at all costs. As a result, we will often continue to do what we have always done - until it becomes too painful to do so, for example, avoiding your tax return! See your goal as a positive and not as something to be endured.

Finally, don't go it alone! If you have tried and failed before then perhaps it is time to consider some extra support. Hypnotherapy, NLP and BWRT can all help by identifying and removing any blockages you may have to success and can help support you to ensure your goal is compelling, positive, achievable, pain-free and, most importantly, something you fully connect with and want in life going forward.

Happy New Year and Happy New You!