All of us are interested in being happier, healthier, and more successful in our endeavors. Whether you're big into making annual resolutions or not, the coming of the New Year has a way of focusing our attention on our goals and desires--and what we wish was different.
Of course, New Year's Resolutions are a bit notorious for grand beginnings and short lifespans. But that's no reason to be discouraged! Whether you're looking to get fit, kick a habit, or heal a relationship in 2019, you can vastly improve your odds with some surprisingly simple steps.
Change Your Mind
In pursuing change, one thing that's always important (and often neglected) is first changing the way you think, particularly in regards to the area you're addressing. What makes new resolutions short-lived is that we attempt dramatic changes in lifestyle or behavior without reevaluating the thought process and emotional components that form the foundation of those patterns.
Just because a something is unhelpful doesn't mean it never served a meaningful purpose. If excessive screen-time, for example, served as an escape from anxiety, grief, or something else, then just trying to cut back on Facebook isn't going to last--or will just be replaced by something else that serves the same function. The same can be true for more serious issues like addiction and toxic relationships. We do things for reasons.
But you can start to make lasting change by first asking yourself, "What is this really doing for me?" As my clients and I explore their inner narratives, we often discover that what really needs to go is an untrue belief or a mistaken story--not what they truly desire.
Giving up something unhealthy doesn't mean giving up on what you need.
There's a meme I've seen quite a few times, always a little different, but in essence shows someone flailing dramatically in the throes of frustration, captioned with something like "Me when I eat a salad and still ain't skinny."
This is a silly exaggeration but it highlights a common hurdle in bringing goals to fruition: when the finish line outshines the first lap. We're a results-based society. We love the startling before-and-after pictures, the inspiring stories of 180-degree change. An eagerness to attain maximum results in minimum time leads to taking on too much at once. Then we can't do it, and are discouraged.
We have to learn to appreciate to the 5-degree change, the little victories that happen over and over and don't seem like much for a while, but in the end are the difference between disappointment and where we want to be. It's not that this salad is going to make me skinny--but it's part of a change I'm making to the way I live.
Sometimes all it takes is having someone by your side who sees the work and knows how much it means.
If you're ready to begin the journey of lasting change in your life and relationships, I'd love to hear from you. Counseling is an invaluable tool in knowing yourself better and reclaiming your story one step at a time.