New Year, New Me?
Why Just New Year?
I remember when I was younger I always believed that when I work up on 1st January that the world would somehow be different and that I would be different too. When I realised that things didn’t change just like that, I really began to hate New Year – it didn’t do what it promised to do. I had to get a bit older before I realised that it had nothing to do with the date – that’s just a number on the calendar – it was something to do with me. The world wasn’t going to change at the stroke of midnight for my wishes to come true. I had to take action to make things change. And it didn’t happen on 1st January either. It happened when I was ready and willing to work for the changes I wanted in my life.
One of the main reasons that New Year’s resolutions don’t work is that we make the kind of promises we think are expected of us at this time of year. Mostly we consider things that we think we should do – stop smoking, lose weight, get a new job, give some time to charity and so on – but we haven’t really set our resolution to match with who we are and what’s happening in our life right now.
Goals – or resolutions – work when we know exactly what we want and what we’re going to gain from it. Followers of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) tell us that it also has to work at an unconscious level. That’s the part of our mind that takes care of the things we can do without consciously thinking of how to do them – walking, breathing, even driving!. It also works to protect us. So if we talk about losing weight or giving up smoking, our unconscious hears the words “lose” and “give up”. It cannot rationalise or translate that into getting healthier. It thinks we’re going to lose something and it goes to work protecting us from our loss.
So, to make our unconscious work with us we need to think of our resolution in positive ways – what we are going to gain – a healthier life style, a smaller dress size, a stress-free working life. And we need to keep saying it to ourselves, at least 6 times a day, until our unconscious mind gets the message and starts helping us.
And then what do we do? We let everyone know what our resolution is for this year. How many of us get that knowing look before we’ve even started? It’s not that we can’t do it, it is because at this time of year no one expects us to do it.
So, let’s stop beating ourselves up and start setting those resolutions when it’s right for us and not by the chime of a clock!