A Better Approach to
New Years Resolutions
-- and Any Resolution!
By Dr. David Grudermeyer and Dr. Rebecca Grudermeyer
WHY DON'T RESOLUTIONS WORK?
Let's face it: the truth about traditional New Years resolutions is that they don't really work. The secret reason why this happens is that most resolutions are essentially fancy-sounding "shoulds." But, good intentions alone rarely result in lasting change. Good intentions by themselves are signals that we're trying to be further along in motivation, readiness or willingness levels than we really are. Making a New Years resolution based on good intentions alone is therefore a sure way to feel inadequate, guilty, shameful, hopeless, or stupid. Because these are the ways you'll feel when you ultimately recognize that you didn't succeed in making your resolution come true.
Fortunately, there IS a way to make New Years resolutions (or resolutions at any time of year) that have a legitimate, fighting chance of coming to pass. There are four secrets to this: 1) Know the sequence by which change happens; 2) Be impeccably honest with yourself about where you are in that sequence regarding the particular change you want to make; 3) Select your "change commitments" based on where you ARE in that sequence, not based on where you WANT to be; 4) Address the blocks which may arise as you enact your "change commitment plan." If you follow these secrets, you will inevitably change in the ways you desire.
HOW CHANGE HAPPENS
Change occurs in a predictable sequence. If you try to proceed out of sequence, you are likely to be inefficient and frustrated at best, and feel hopeless, defeated and give up at worst. The change sequence is: 1) Gleams; 2) Commitment; 3) Preparation; 4) Training; 5) Manifestation; 6) Anchoring; 7) Teamwork, 8) Leadership.
- GLEAMS: Wanting to want. Wanting the end (the goal) but not the means (what you'll have to do to achieve the goal). Also
known as wishes, musing, seeing the light but not feeling the heat, pre-willingness, making excuses about why the goal can't be achieved, being too
afraid to take the risks necessary to make change possible. The trap here is not being in "gleams" (this is the starting place of all dreams!) ö
it's thinking you're somewhere else. So, if you're not yet ready to shift from gleams to commitment, just accept this for now and decide which
changes you are presently ready to commit to. Or, commit to identifying what blocks you from making a commitment to change in this way, and deal with those
blocks instead of committing to the goal itself yet. Example: "I currently do not exercise, I sure would like to, but if I'm really honest with
myself, I do not intend to start exercising in the next six months."
- COMMITMENT: Wanting. Also known as embracing a goal, becoming willing, becoming ready, becoming motivated. Example: "I
currently do not exercise but I am committed to making exercise a part of the fabric of my life in the next six months."
- PREPARATION: Priorities realignment. Also known as changing your habits, priorities or lifestyle to make time and energy to
follow through on your commitment. Includes decisions about resources you'll use to help you change. Initial attempts to succeed at your commitment
remain limited until priorities realignment occurs. Example: "I've made time in my schedule to exercise, have decided on the type of exercise
that's best for me to begin with, and have secured the resources necessary to exercise in this way."
- TRAINING: Learning how to use your selected resources to make the desired habit change or new capability possible to achieve.
This is where the change process moves into full swing. How honest one's commitment is shows through the extent to which one is consistent in following
the "training regimen." For an example of this, check out the scenes in the first Rocky movie, where Stallone sticks to his training routine come
rain or shine. And, also like Stallone's character, one can become stuck in an addiction or obsession with the training, causing other important
aspects of one's life to be neglected. Example: "In starting to exercise more regularly I am learning how to warm up and cool down, how to pace
myself and how to avoid hurting myself or reducing my enjoyment of exercising by not over-reach my abilities. I'm developing new discipline."
- MANIFESTATION: Repeatedly and consistently applying your training toward the committed goal. When self-defeating programming,
patterns or wound haven't yet surfaced, they do so here. As success starts to happen, these questions often arise, consciously or subliminally:
"Is it okay to be successful?" "Do I want this amount of good?" Many people who can't handle success self-destruct at this point in
the change process, because wanting was safe but having is not. So, at this point it is frequently important to ask, "What are my blocks to sustaining
higher levels of good in my life?" Example: "I currently exercise regularly, I have fun doing it, and I am still working out the kinks in my
exercise program. I have only begun exercising regularly in the last six months. I'm starting to see results, but I know that exercise is not yet a
permanent habit for me."
- ANCHORING: The new pattern/habit becomes rooted, anchored, resistant to backsliding and graceful and fine-tuned. In other words,
it becomes second nature. New habits spontaneously persist, or are rapidly returned to even in times of stress or disruption. Example: "I have been
exercising consistently for longer than six months. It's feeling like second nature to me. I'm beginning to feel some expertise at it."
- TEAMWORK: Often, a sense of individual mastery leads to wanting to create something with others who have mastery that's
larger than can be manifested alone. Fears of inter-dependence often arise at this point in the change process. This can lead to believing that you now can
sustain the changes you've made by yourself. Example: "I like to exercise with others and find myself modifying the way I exercise so that I can
do it as a group activity more of the time."
- MENTORING: Leadership. Taking others under your wing to coach. Example: "I feel so comfortable with my relationship to exercise and to doing it with others that I'm now enjoying being in a leadership, teaching or midwifing position with others."