If you do want to make changes in your life – and lets face it who wouldn’t in the present environment of doom and gloom?
The break in routine and the sense of a new start to the year after the winter break is an ideal opportunity to disrupt old habits and behaviours in order to make changes, but remember that you can make real life goals that work for you anytime that is right for you.
For several years my family and I preceded the New Year by spending an hour or so writing resolutions – putting them into a sealed envelope for the next year and then having a good laugh reading what we wrote the year before! But then, some of mine stuck – so I decided to learn more.
New Years resolutions are at their best a personal planning or goal setting exercise. In work or sport, we would not make plans for twelve months in a brief moment after a big night out so why do we do this when we are setting out to plan out something as crucial as our lives?
So if you are serious about change then invest some time in developing a good set of resolutions and give them some thought, both in terms of what you are planning to do as well as how you set your resolutions. The vast majority of resolutions fail because the are badly thought through and are badly worded.
The first thing to do is to decide if you really want to change and what precisely you want to change or achieve. You may have a clear idea of what you would like to do
1 Choose the right resolutions and be specific
Use one of the tools such as the well known ‘Wheel of life’ to not only help you assess different areas of you life – relationships, career, health, learning etc, but also to prompt you to consider each goal in relation to the whole of your interests and responsibilities. So, choose the right areas of your life and be specific about what you want to achieve. You are not only setting out a conscious plan but also programming your unconscious mind to achieve these things for you as well. As soon as your goals become embedded into your unconsciousness you start to achieve them, so if you have set out to earn more than you did last year then once you have earned £1 more your target is met! Be as specific as you can be. The unconscious mind is highly literal, so be as specific about what you want to achieve as possible!
2 Imagine you have already achieved them and use all your senses!
Use your imagination to discover what it will look, feel, sound, taste and smell like when you have achieved your goals. How will you know when you have achieved them and how will others know you have achieved them.
Use this imaginative process to develop a true rounded sense of your life when you have achieved them to produce a fully detailed description of that part of your life twelve months from now. Looking back from twelve months in the future – imagine the steps you took to achieve your goals. This is what you should write down as your goals. This programmes the unconscious mind to fully believe and expect the changes and developments you want in your life. Write, draw, illustrate your representation of your future in as much detail as possible and put it somewhere you will see it daily.
3 Make them entirely positive you get what you focus on!
The brain, as many people know, can only process information in positive terms – when we say ‘don’t think of a purple elephant we have to think of the elephant before any processing goes on. The same applies with any language of goals or resolutions. So saying, ‘I don’t want to smoke” only focuses your attention on smoking, the same with any behaviour or habit. The same with ‘I want to lose my belly’ – the brain processes this as ‘I want my belly!” When setting your resolutions be really careful about your language – ‘I want to be a non smoker,’ or even better –
“It is December 2012 (Or whatever year is relevant) and I have been a non smoker for 12 months now, I feel and look great. My breathing, sleep, skin and hair are all fantastic. Everyone notices how healthy I look. I walk for miles anytime I want to and run up and downstairs barely breaking a sweat. I have just come back from holiday with the extra money I have saved. I feel and people respond to me as a much more attractive and positive person. I am calm and chilled all the time and enjoy tasting my food like it never tasted before. When I see other people smoking – I just laugh and can’t believe that was me. If I am ever stressed I can relax easily and look after myself well.” Use as much sensory language as you can!
4 Make sure that they fit in – make it humanly ecological!
Deciding you are going to become a world class climber or earn double your salary might well be achievable but only at the cost of your relationships or your health. Make sure that your resolutions fit in with the rest of your life over the next twelve months.
5 Set intermediate and achievable goals as well – set up you path to success!
Remember you are in a process of change all the time. There will always be things you are very likely to do or achieve throughout the course of the year. Include these in your planning – best if they are four months into your plan. One, these give you a guaranteed sense of achievement but secondly and more importantly – these successes reinforce your expectation of achieving the bigger goals in the latter part of the year. Decide what you will achieve each week, each month, after three months and after six months and so forth.
6 Write them down
You’ve learned how to write and develop goals – using sensory language, through your own eyes and the eyes of others and from the point of the goal being achieved. Now take some time to write them down and revise them – it’s good to develop them on your word-processor but best to write them by hand once you are happy with them. It’s just one more powerful way of linking brain and body in the commitment to your future. Might sound old fashioned but it works!
7 Go public
You can plan all the goals in the world but if you never take responsibility they are easy to subvert and ignore. Go public – there are sites like 43things where you can post goals but these are only visible to an anonymous community. Tell your friends and family – let them see what you want to achieve – make them jealous. When you make yourself accountable for your success in this way how much more likely are you to buckle down and get the job done? Put your goals, however you have recorded them up somewhere you can see them every day – by your bed, in the kitchen – on the fridge door. Keep a blog, diary, Facebook page, your own website, make a video for YouTube – have some fun!
8 Get support
Enlisting the support of those around you is vital for success. For example how much easier will it be for you to succeed in losing weight if your partner is always bringing biscuits and snacks home. Get others on board. You can get a huge amount of support online and a load of inspiration through reading. That’s what self-help books are for – off the shelf inspiration and support. You might even book a couple of sessions with a coach to get specific support in key areas.
9 Monitor your progress
Keep a close eye on what you are doing each day, each week,each month in order to make changes. If you notice a change in behaviour or choices on a daily basis then the longer term changes you are seeking become more and more natural to you. Give yourself credit for every change in behaviour.
10 Choose your motivation
Are you an “away from” or a “towards person?” We all have a motivation strategy which works for us. Many people have strong ‘away from’ bad consequences which drives them forward. Others have a stronger preference for moving towards positive outcomes. Use whatever works best for you to keep you going.
11 Take action!
If you want change in your life, take action. Nothing will ever happen to you or for you until you start doing something different. If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always had! The hardest action out of your comfort zone is the hardest. Ask yourself ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen to you?’ And then ask again ‘Well apart from that what’s the worst thing that can happen to you?’ As soon as you take action and actually do something, anything you didn’t do before, the sooner you will start to change. Take action today! Contact someone, ask for what you need, meet new people, join things, go to different events, seek out change, go on a course or seminar, open yourself to new and unexpected opportunities and be amazed what will come to you.
Be prepared to and plan to celebrate! What will you deserve when your resolutions are achieved? You would reward a youngster for achieving great things – why not yourself? Feeling good and experiencing change and personal development is indeed reward in itself but there is nothing wrong in celebrating this as well. Personal development is tremendously exciting as you realise how much you can be in control of your life, but it’s also a big achievement – so celebrate!
Still not convinced? Here’s a thought… we all have plans, like resolutions, running for us all the time, this is how we make decisions and choices all of our lives. The difference between an unconsidered plan and a well thought through plan is that the latter its you that makes the choices. You will always get what you plan for so be careful!
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