Creating Real Change: From Resolutions to Reality in 5 Steps
Why is it that every year we all come up with great resolutions, only to see them slowly evaporate in the subsequent weeks and months? I’m guessing that over 90% of those who’ve made New Year’s resolutions don’t even remember what they were by the time December rolls around. And, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.
So, is there anything we can do to “guarantee” that our resolutions stay alive and eventually come true? The short answer is yes. But, the way to get those changes to happen is not a short answer. I’ve taken the answer from the Chi Walking “playbook” which involves five steps to achieve a goal… from walking your first 5K to dropping 15 pounds, to getting out of debt. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get down to a deeper, more mindful approach to change, we can almost guarantee you’ll be high-fiving yourself come next December.
The Five Steps I’m talking about offer a great way to ensure the success you’re looking for, whether your goals are physical, emotional or spiritual.
Step 1: Get Aligned – Have a clear vision of what you’d like to change in your life. Then, spend some time thinking about why you picked this particular subject. How does it affect your life? How would your life be different if this thing were changed for the better? Imagine what life would be like on the other side of it.
Another think to get aligned with is how you might be causing your current condition; that which you’d like to change. It is more empowering to have a resolution that addresses the cause of a problem, instead of trying to beat your symptoms into submission. Fighting an enemy only gives it more size and power. For instance, if you want to lose 25 lbs. this year, your resolution-thinking might be better served by resolving to change the eating patterns that created those extra pounds to begin with. Get to the source and your resolutions will be more pithy and have a longer lifespan.
Step 2: Engage Your Core –Although there are many movements you can train your body to do automatically, there is one group of muscles that never engages accidentally… your core muscles. In order for your core to work for you, you have to be intentional around it. This means you have to bring what you know, to bear on what you’re doing. In terms of your resolutions, it means reconnecting on a daily basis with your intentions for change. Reminders are king, so list them as auto-reminders on your computer’s calendar, use sticky notes, or ask a trusted friend to check in with you on a regular basis. State your intentions to your close circle of friends or coworkers… whatever it takes to help you stick with it.
Step 3: Create Balance – Don’t go out too fast or you’ll crash. Who isn’t guilty of this?
Stretch yourself, but be reasonable. Work at a pace that is sustainable… not too fast and not to slow. It’s just beyond where you’re at right now, but not such a stretch that it would lead to frustration or failure. Find the balance point just “north of middle” and settle in there. In Chi Running and Chi Walking we talk about “balancing” yourself in a forward lean. It might feel uncomfortable at first because it’s a new sensation. But the more you work with it, the more familiar and helpful it will feel.
Step 4: Make a Choice – The results we get are the direct outcome of the choices we make. When you’re setting out to change something about yourself it takes repeatedly making that higher choice. It comes down to showing up for your new self when you’re tempted to be your old self. I once heard a spiritual teacher refer to this as “unconditional follow-through.” Hold yourself accountable and you’ll be building a strong “muscle” you can rely on when you need strength. Be mindful and read your list of resolutions every day.
Step 5: Move Forward – You have to take action every day or you don’t move forward. This is what separates a “good idea” from a practice. Nike used to have an ad campaign that said, “You either ran today, or you didn’t.” That pretty much tells it like it is, or better yet how it has to be, for your New Year’s resolution to become a reality.
Do what works best for you to keep taking forward steps day-by-day. As I mentioned before, one great way to hold yourself responsible is to enlist the help of friends, for regular progress check-ins. Calendar alarms and prescheduled notifications on your smartphone also work to remind you regularly, and always look back to why you came up with the resolution in the first place.
Creating change in your life doesn’t just happen; it takes work. But, it’s the best and most rewarding work you’ll ever do. If you’re willing to stay with it in your mind, body and soul you can create the change you seek and make that change permanent.