“A year from now, you may wish you’d started today”
We're a month into the New Year and how many resolutions have fallen to the wayside already? So many of us fail at New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest; resolutions are often broken promises in the making. They’re usually about things we feel shame or bad about. You want to lose weight, get out of debt and meet the man or woman of your dreams — all in 30 days. Yeah, of course you do!
For those of you who may want to get back on track, let’s start with the basic human principle of ‘embrace pleasure, and avoid pain’. We like things that make us feel good and we tend to avoid the stuff that hurts, feels bad, or is painful. Our resolutions and goals often come with a plethora of insecurities. Within a few weeks, that gym membership goes unused, contributing to the debt management issues and you certainly can’t contemplate having the courage to ask out that dreamy guy or girl. Cue the feelings of guilt, shame, and failure – Embrace pleasure, avoid pain. The sad truth is the more we feel bad, the less we tend to face or engage with the subject, which doesn’t actually facilitate the shift in behaviour or mindset we wanted in the first place.
The same desire for pleasure applies – goals need to be written in a way that makes you say, “I want that because it makes me feels good”, otherwise all the rational thinking in the world won’t get you to eat salads, run 5 miles a day, or skip your morning croissant. The goal itself has to make you feel good, along with a reward for following through and making it happen.
If you want to change a habit, give yourself a positive reinforcement. Once again, make yourself feel good, not bad, about what you want to achieve. If you want to transform how the world thinks about you, make yourself feel better about YOU. Without first making yourself feel like crap!
Both consciously and unconsciously, we use certain patterns to frame our story in a way that makes us feel bad — and often, we’re not even aware of it. We then wonder why we’re not getting the level of buy-in or ‘willpower’ that we hoped for!
Good news, there is hope for 2015’s goals! The “feel bad” self-talk is actually a poor way to approach your new year resolutions because it drives up a fight or flight response in your body. When people experience fear, they are less receptive and emotionally available than when they feel relaxed, comfortable, and safe.
If your goal is to inspire new thinking, influence people’s perceptions of you and engage new behaviours — does it logically make sense to engage yourself in a fight-or-flight response? Rather than introduce stress and fear, recognise that you behave based on your feelings and create a different approach, one that inspires and encourages change.
A method I’ve used for delivering constructive criticism or bad news in business for years is something I used to refer to as a ‘s**t-sandwich‘ and which, in light of positive re-framing, shall now be referred to as a ‘feel-good’ sandwich!
- Take a slice of goodness and put your goals into a context you can relate to
- Introduce a conflict, dilemma or consequence of not achieving your goal
- Bring back a second slice of good feelings, reminding yourself of what you are capable of
You need to figure out what language works for you, what resonates? Are you unconsciously sabotaging yourself by using an approach to goal setting that actually works against you? Some illustrations of re-framing those earlier examples are:
THE DIET GOAL
- I am going to look and feel amazing as a size 12 this summer
- But if I don’t achieve this, I won’t be comfortable going to so and so’s summer pool party
- I was a size 12 a few years ago and it only took me 6 months to achieve
THE DEBT FREE GOAL
- I am loving the freedom of being debt-free
- If I don’t make the effort to save money on a monthly basis, I won’t be able to pay off xxx in March
- I was able to save for my summer holiday last year by putting money away so I know that I am capable of getting this done in bite-size chunks
THE RELATIONSHIP GOAL
- I am ready to be in a positive and loving relationship in 2015
- If I don’t make more of an effort to go out, I’m unlikely to meet my new partner
- I have been in relationships before and I am capable of making better choices for myself now
If you want to get back on track with promises you made this New Year and you’re looking for sustained impact, give this positive ‘feel-good’ approach to goals and new year resolutions a go and I wish you all every success in 2015…
“…be better than you were yesterday”
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