Figuring out how to keep resolutions can sometimes be as hard or even harder than the New Year’s resolutions we set ourselves. Change isn’t always easy and straightforward. Some stuff I learned about neuroscience seems to explain that. So I will share one of my key New Year’s resolutions with you and show you how I am putting it into action according to four pillars of neuroscience that help with making change.
By doing this, I am putting myself ‘out there’, stepping off the cliff with the intention of flying and swimming in my sea of dreams. (I purchased The Leap of Faith picture from Charlotte Reed of May the Thoughts Be with You. She does fantastic work!)
Maybe you will find that these principles can help you make the change you want for yourself.
My New Year’s Resolution
To grow my wellness practice from a small part-time endeavour to a bigger one.
I work with adults who have experienced the onset of a long-term condition or serious illness/injury, may feel like it is in full control of their life, and want to find a way to take back that control, move forward and return to a sense of wellness. I also work with carers as they are often a hidden hero in these situations and have needs too.
How to keep resolutions – Implement these four pillars of change
Change requires consistency and the 4 pillars, which reinforce one another, help make this happen.
This is your desire to make a change and the positive emotions that go with that. This gets you started but can be fickle and may not last long. The reason is that motivation and emotion come from the Limbic part of our brain. But Limbic also looks for the problems with the change we want to make. So Limbic can keep us in this vicious circle of wanting to make change but finding reasons not to take action. Hence why so many people purchase a gym membership and then find reasons not to go.
So I have the motivation; it’s been there for some time. I believe this resolution will benefit my emotional/psychological health. But I have always had a reason not to give more time to it. So I’ve put my foot down and said, ‘Enough of that.’ I am in the process of removing those reasons, thinning my other commitments to create time for something I find very meaningful.
This keeps you going. It develops over time as you take action in making your change. If your action is of a size that is easy to take and achieve, you are more likely to take it. And so develop your commitment.
So I commit to focus on growing my wellness practice from 9am to 2pm, Monday to Friday (with a break for exercise and lunch).
But now I need to maintain my commitment! Discipline is about saying yes to the things you want to say yes to and things you want to say no to. You develop discipline through practice, thereby strengthening your commitment.
Discipline has been my challenge. Like many of us, I am disciplined in some areas of my life and not in others. But I know I can develop discipline and think of a time when I did to remind myself I have the ability. This helps me to keep exercising discipline.
Making what’s important to you your priority helps you to be disciplined
In relation to focusing on growing my wellness practice, so far in 2016 I have done ok. Swapping the focus on my wellness practice to the morning was easier for me to do. There is an upside to it. By starting to focus on my other roles later in the day, they get less time. Giving my wellness practice more time because it is the priority feels right for me.
There was one day I focused on my other roles all day. My reasoning was to clear some to-do items as I had just got back from holiday. But those to do lists will never empty, the items I worked on could have waited, and the world would not have ended. That’s my learning.
The other day I had a morning meeting related to another role I do and decided to focus on my wellness practice in the afternoon. When I got home, I really wanted to continue focusing on my other role, but I resisted the urge and focused on my wellness practice. It is important to celebrate these moments. Yeah me! 🙂
These are the support mechanisms you put in place to help you make change. They can be the support of family and friends, favourite quotes, alarms, apps that provide an element of competition, your savings to allow you to do a course to re-qualify, and so much more.
The structures I am putting in place to support my New Year’s resolution are:
- I want to give myself a limited period of time and set an alarm for pieces of work I need to do in relation to my wellness practice and other roles. I believe this will help me use my time more efficiently and get done what I need to. If I am doing that, then I know I will feel less compulsion to revert to the old way of doing things.
- The ‘leap of faith’ picture above is a visual reminder of what I want and sits in my direct line of sight when I am at my desk. It makes me smile.
- My other half is very happy to hold me to account when I ask him to and will proactively ask how things are going. I just need to remind him not to focus first thing on what is not right or I could be doing differently as that can be a bit of a kill joy for me. So if you use other people, tell them how they can support you.
The importance of practice and self-compassion
Practice and self-compassion are the glue holding these pillars to the seat of consistent change. With practice comes discomfort and mistakes. That is good. Lean into those. Learn from them. That is self-compassion in action.
If you find you want to make change but are not taking action, use the higher order functioning of your pre-frontal cortex to have a dialogue with rogue emotions that want to take you away from making the change you want. Discover their need and give them a new role in helping you achieve the change you want. Or if they have no further use to you, send the rogue emotions away on the never-ending best holiday of their life.
Also pay close attention to your thought and feeling process just before you start doing the new thing and while you do it. This enables you to learn more about how you are positively helping yourself and you can transmit this to other areas of your life.
So how to keep resolutions?
Make sure the change is right for you. The upsides of making the change outweigh the upsides of doing nothing. This is key!
Keep the change small, and so easily achievable.
Practice practice practice.
Choose support structures you love and are truly helpful to you.
Lean into the discomfort and mistakes that come with practice and trust yourself to learn from them and come out the other side.
What’s it like for you?
What have you learned here regarding how to keep resolutions? If you have set some already, what are you doing to maintain discipline and build your commitment? What support structures have you put in place? Feel free to share them here and together we can support one another.
If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.
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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2016