Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. — A. A. Milne
Statistically, most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February 1st. It’s possible that some of us may not really take this tradition seriously, knowing that it will just be a matter of time before we give in. Some of us may think we are setting goals that we really believe in without being fully invested. Some of us may really want to reach our goal but give in just as soon as ‘real life’ shows up. But for many, the thought of trying and failing ‘yet again’ is enough to keep us from getting truly invested in setting and working towards a goal.
If this happens year after year, then why bother to set goals?
For most of us, there is a deep yearning for life to feel better. And we think that by reaching a goal that we set for ourselves, we will feel better. But have you ever reached a goal only to find that in the end you weren’t REALLY satisfied? Was that goal really for you?
Many of my coaching clients come to me unsure of the goals they really want to accomplish and know they would love my help so they can live a happier and more fulfilled life. They’re either past the point of even trying, or they have so many other things happening in life that they can’t even see themselves reaching a goal that they set for themselves.
So how do we develop a way to stick to the things that we are truly and deeply committed to? How do we keep moving forward even when everything seems stacked against us? How do we begin to work towards feeling that we can even set a goal in the first place, and then really stick to it?
In my coaching programs, there is a quick and easy way that, with practice, has proven to allow my clients to stand firm and work towards those things that are the most important to them.
Please note, if you are unsure that you can even reach a goal right now because life seems so impossible, it’s ok to start small. How about a simple goal of “I think a positive thought about myself each day.” or “I create a gratitude list each night.” In reality, it doesn’t matter what the goal is because the magic is not in reaching a goal, it’s in the shift that happens when retraining your brain to see the positive in life.
- Test your goal.
- Notice what you notice.
- Reframe negative self talk.
- Practice and notice progress.
1- Test your goal. The first thing I do is ask my clients to put their goal to a test. Any goal worth accomplishing may evoke some degree of fear or resistance. It’s natural when stepping out of your comfort zone to feel a little unsteady. Ultimately any goal worth working towards should be something that is worthy of YOU. Your goal should be worthy of your very precious time, attention, and energy. You can use this worksheet to test your goal to see that it is worthy of pursuing. An example has been filled out for you here.
2- Notice what you notice. So let’s say that you’ve decided that your goal stands up to the test. Once you are committed, what do you do at the first signs of trouble? I ask my clients to describe to me what they notice. How are they feeling? What circumstances are happening around them? What kind of self-talk is happening? Use the worksheet to help you.
Chances are, the types of messages we tell ourselves when the going is rough, are the same messages we tell ourselves in our unconscious thoughts and likely have for years. This unconscious conditioning can seem insurmountable, but it isn’t. The wonderful news about the human mind is that YOU are in control and anything that can be learned can be unlearned or retrained.
3- Reframe negative self-talk. Once you recognize what the negative messaging is, now you can begin to retrain your brain to overcome future self-sabotage or defeat. In those moments of stress when you can feel yourself ready to cave or when life seems too much, there really is value in the old saying ”just take a deep breath”. This practice creates an immediate interrupt in the old automatic thinking and helps bring awareness to our conscious mind about what our old, limiting self-talk has been.
Write down the thoughts or feelings that you may be experiencing. Now try adding the phrase “up until now”. So now “it’s hard to lose weight” becomes “up until now, it’s been hard to lose weight”. By putting this statement in the past, you begin to actually rewire your brain to believe that the old belief is no longer true. You create room for a new, positive belief to grow and develop. You begin to gain power over the unconscious automatic conditioning that may have been running you for years. Use the worksheet to help you.
Next, write down at least one example of a time when you were able to disprove a negative. And since our word is the beginning of any new creation, if you can’t think of a real example right now, create one. Add as many details about this memory as you can– real or imagined. What were you thinking? Feeling? Doing? Use the worksheet to help you.
4- Practice and notice progress. How many times when trying to reach a goal do you notice and scold yourself for “messing up”? How many times do you praise yourself and enjoy your progress? In the past, it may have seemed like a motivator to notice all of the things that you’ve done wrong when trying to reach a goal. The truth is, that wherever we place our focus, we create. So in noticing faults, we create more faults. In noticing progress, we create more progress. This is why we use positive reinforcement when disciplining children. It works!
So take time when you are noticing some resistance in accomplishing your goal to list all of the things that you have done to get closer to the finish line. Congratulate yourself and really soak in the feeling. Think of the things that you really enjoy doing (and they don’t have to cost a dime!) and take some time for yourself to enjoy those things.
As you practice this process, it will happen quicker and more naturally. You will begin to see shifts in so many other areas in your life. As your thoughts are trained to focus on the positive, the other “stuff” seems less important. Those little miracles that carry us through tough times start to show up. The tough times start to become easier to navigate. We begin to see the lessons and gifts that life’s challenges are there to teach us.
Whether you are working on a New Year’s resolution or another goal in your life, you don’t have to do the work alone. I work closely with people just like you who are facing big changes in life and who want to see real progress. Many of my clients come to me without a clear goal, just the feeling that they are tired of life ‘as it is’ and need help to get to a ‘better’ place. I’ve been so blessed to witness client’s lives improve, some slowly over time, some by leaps and bounds very quickly!
I’m here to help. Contact me for a 30 minute discovery session to discuss how we might work together to help you stand firm when it seems that everything else is going wrong and to begin to build a life you love.