A Better New Year Resolution

News Years Resolution

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail.  After a few months a person is back at their old habits and routines.  One reason well intended resolutions fail is because we are already overloaded.  Our mind is full of things to think about, our daily schedule is full, and our energy spent on existing routines.  With our attention, time, and energy spent, we don’t have enough resources to successfully implement anything new.

That is why by the end of the day we just want to sit on the couch and watch TV.  Sometimes it is all we have energy for.  At that point, we lack the energy necessary to get to the gym and push our body through a work out, a night class, or other things that we seriously intended over too much champagne.

Once your new routine is implemented it can bring you more time and energy in return.  However, it takes some personal power to implement the new mental, emotional, and physical habits before you get that energy back. Some people think it just takes a serious commitment and/or discipline.  However, the energy we put into the commitment and the energy to keep our selves focused has to come from somewhere.  If you are going to make a life change permanent you will have to free up some personal power and energy for it.

Less is More

Before you implement something new you must first free up some resources for it to be successful.  Instead of making a New Year’s resolution that just adds something to your schedule, make a resolution to detach from something.  Begin to simplify your life by deleting things from your daily or weekly regiment.  Once you’ve freed up some energy, start putting in place small positive changes.  A way to make large changes successful is to break them up into smaller elements of change.

Why make small changes first?  A huge plan for change can overwhelm us, and set us up for failure which leads to self-judgment. To combat this pitfall, start with something small.  Besides, large scale change is really just a lot of small changes added together so it works out to be the same.  It might not seem as heroic, but better to get results than to try and feed an ego image of the hero and fail. Implement one simple thing.  When you have integrated a small change into an easy habit that adds positive energy to your life, then make another small change.  Depending on the change you are making, 4 to 6 weeks is enough time to build a new habit.

Example of Less is More

Refrain from making your resolutions about adding something such as “eat healthier.”   This is an additional, “to do” item that takes energy, and adds stress to the mind.  Instead, make a resolution to eliminate something or do less.  I call them NON-DOINGS. Instead consider the commitment, “I’m going to treat my body better by no longer drinking soft drinks.”  This statement is not as general, and therefor not as vague.  Being specific in your resolutions makes it easier to notice how to achieve them and be successful. Also have a commitment of what you will do instead.  “I’ll drink water, or herbal tea instead.”  Now you have a new habit to commit to that can fill in that empty space of activity instead of an old habit dropping in.

If you are already drinking diet soft drinks with artificial sweeteners, delete them as well.  Studies have shown that diet drinks are equally as unhealthy as regular soda.

Adopt “Non Doings” as a way to change

Think of it as not spending money on unhealthy drinks.  Think of it as not picking up something at the grocery store.  One less thing to carry to your car, put in your refrigerator, keep cold, or throw in the recycling.  Your liver and organs have less toxic materials to purify from your body as well.  One simple Non Doing leads to less in other things.

By breaking just one habit, you created a little more time in your week, more money in your pocket, and more energy in your body.   As you learn the art of Non-Doing, or refrain, you find that you have more, energy, attention, and money.  Then it is time for the next step of change.

Compounding Change

With your added resources and personal power implement the next “Not Doing.”    After that habit is an easy and natural way to live, refrain from doing something else in your life that bleeds off your energy    With the personal power that you recover from these habits, it is much easier to break each additional habit.  As you recover additional power each time you break an old pattern your speed at making changes in your life grows. As your confidence grows in making small changes, the doubtful and skeptical thoughts that can sabotage change have less power as well.   The important thing is to start with something small and build.

Do Less with your Time

Perhaps you want to work out at the gym a couple times a week.  Where are you going to get the time for the gym if you don’t eliminate something else first?    What are you spending time doing that you are going to do less of?  If you don’t free it up from somewhere, then you will try to do too much.  Eventually you will become overwhelmed and tired.  When you are tired your mind will begin to return to old habits and you’ll skip the gym workouts.   Perhaps eliminate television or some internet surfing.

Look at where you spend your time and attention that is least worthwhile. One mother was running ragged driving her son to soccer practice, guitar lessons, and then karate on the weekend.  It made her tired.  She longed for a simple evening with time to make dinner at home with her family.  She told her kids that they could only do one activity at a time and they had to choose.  To her surprise her children didn’t resent her for it.  They were happy with the lifestyle change as well, particularly when they had more time to hang out with friends. Changing this behavior doesn’t take much effort.  Actually, because you are doing less of it, it takes less effort.   You actually get some of your attention, energy, time back

If you add something to your schedule without eliminating something first, it will put stress on your mind, emotions, and possibly your pocketbook.  Your mind will feel overloaded and that will affect your emotional well being. It seems like you are doing more, but you feel less about it.

Make Room to Change Your Thoughts

In order to break a habit or behavior, you will sometimes have to change the belief in your mind that drives that action, or behavior.

Part of why we waste time on things like television and internet games is that we have beliefs that support the behavior.  Those beliefs fight against the conscious and reasoned thoughts of it being a waste of time.  A belief is a mental construct that we accept as true, and then gets expressed as a behavior.  It usually remains unconscious to us until we raise our awareness and put our attention in it.   We can have thoughts and tell our self one thing, but we act and behave according to our beliefs. An example of this is when we know that eating healthy is better but we eat unhealthy foods and drinks because we have beliefs about ease, or making changes later. If you believe that exercise is “hard work, there is “no pain no gain” relationship, or “no fun” it will be difficult to keep the habit going.  Those types of beliefs sabotage our motivation.

As long as you have a supporting belief about a habit or behavior, it will be difficult to break that habit or behavior.  You will often be able to push away the behavior for a while, but since the mental construct is still in your mind, the behavior will tend to creep back in.  To make a complete and permanent change in behavior, you will have to change the belief at the root of the behavior.

What does a belief look like?

One place beliefs hide is in justifications.  A comment like, “I just need to watch TV for a bit to wind down” is a justification that hides a belief.  At the same time those words are so automatic that they are a habit as well.  The word “need” exaggerates the desire as if it were food, shelter, or water.  This is a distortion that we accept as true when we use such strong misplaced words.  From our dialog and thoughts it then appears that we have not choice.  We NEED television.  When you put your attention on these distortions in a skeptical manner you no longer believe your own justifications and they can begin to change.

How many ways can you wind down and let go of your stress of the day? Perhaps let go of watching TV and go for a walk.  If you only come up with one, then you have found a limiting belief.  If you come up with several, but only actually do one, you found a limiting belief.   Your actions are a big indicator of your beliefs.

Limiting beliefs take up space in your mind, drain your energy with wasteful habits and defensive justifications.  When you begin to do less television, internet surfing, or drinking pop, you will find these agreements poking at you.  They will attempt to pull and poke you back into old habits.

Your old beliefs will propose lots of justifications for going back to your old habits.  This is where awareness comes in handy.  If you have awareness when these thoughts tempt you, you can avoid being hypnotized by them.  Awareness is your best defense against sabotaging beliefs.  It gives you the power to perceive the distortions, exaggerations, and lies behind those words.     With that awareness it is easy to say no to temptation before you fall into an old behavior habit.

Why most Resolutions Fail over time

Most resolutions fail over time because people attempt to change the behavior, but don’t address the unconscious beliefs that support those behaviors. Our beliefs are often below our conscious radar of what our mind is doing.  We are not trained how to look at them or even that we should.  To change these beliefs you will have to LEARN how to look at your thoughts and see the beliefs that support them.  The audio program in Self Mastery will help you to do this.

Begin with Less

Begin your resolutions this year with detaching from something that is taking up your attention, time, and energy.  Your emotional reactions and emotional drama can be some of the things you detach from as well.  Once you have carved out some extra time and energy for your self, then consider what you want to do with it.

Before you add something healthy to your diet make room by deleting something unhealthy.  Before you create new beliefs that will add to your happiness, break some old beliefs that create unhappiness.  Breaking old beliefs will free up the power you need to make future commitments work out.

If you want to grow a garden you must first clear the ground of weeds.  If you don’t, those weeds will take the nutrients and sunlight from whatever you plant.  Clearing the space makes it possible for your new creation to grow.  To make effective changes in your life begin by clearing away what doesn’t work.  Then in the empty space that you create, build something beautiful, nurturing, and beneficial to your self and your relationships

May each new year of your life be happier than the last.

I wish you the happiest year of your life.