Are you constantly making new goals and resolutions and not sticking with them? Do you have a tendency to try for a week or two and then forget or give up? You are not alone. Many people face challenges making changes in their lives. We all face a level of resistance to change, no matter how strongly we want the change and how clearly we can see it will improve our lives. You can increase your chances for success by keeping in mind the following factors.
The first thing that needs to be considered is the goal itself and the reason for wanting to reach this goal. When creating a goal it is important to make sure that it is SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Specific.
Specific- Goals need to be specific so you know what you are focusing on and it helps to give you a direction.
Measurable-It is important to be able to measure your progress so you can evaluate your plan for achieving it.
Attainable- Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure because we reach for a goal that is not realistic. Of course it is important to challenge yourself but make sure the goal isn’t too high (or low for that matter).
Relevant- Is this something that will really make a difference in your life? Is it something that is feasible for your lifestyle?
Time specific- It is important to set a deadline or timeline so you can keep yourself on track.
Really consider your motivation for reaching this goal. Remind yourself of the reasons for wanting to reach your goal. This will help to increase your motivation and drive. You can do this by focusing on what life will be like once you reach your goal by day dreaming, writing about it, and talking to someone else about it. You may choose to put up statements or quotes in places that you will see often. Or another idea is to create a vision board which is essentially a collage with images and words that will help you to focus on what life will be like once you reach your goal. No matter which method you choose it is important to think about how you will look, how you will feel emotionally and physically, what you will be able to do, as well as what other things in your life will change when you reach your goal.
Once you have a solid goal created and you are motivated to reach it, it is important to begin to set yourself up for success. We often have things that block us from reaching our goals. It is hard to see this in ourselves but there is often what we call secondary benefits or gains to having the problem. For instance, for a person who has more weight than they would like, there could be subconscious benefits to excess weight such as using it as protection against others. This may be because it makes a person seem more intimidating to others and less likely that someone will bother them or less desirable to others and therefore acts as protection against feeling objectified or unwanted attention. I recently worked with a client on self-esteem and when looking for subconscious beliefs that were causing resistance to change we identified that this person had a negative subconscious association with self-esteem because they saw it as causing someone to be vain and self-absorbed. We never would have been able to increase self-esteem without working on changing this belief first.
It is also important to pay attention to your subconscious associations. For instance, if you want to lose weight but can’t seem to give up the sugar, what does the sugar represent to you? What are you really hungry for? Are there certain situations or times of the day when you are more likely to indulge? Are there associations with the sugar and certain emotions such as you reach for something sweet to celebrate or because you had a bad day? What are the triggers? Once these are identified then it is important to find healthier alternatives to begin to create the associations with and be ready to implement them. If you do not have an alternative coping skills, especially for problem behaviors that are emotionally driven, you are likely to fall back on the bad habit.
Keep in mind that it takes time to make a change and to keep it. The old saying that it takes 21 times to make a habit is accurate. The reason for this is simply that the brain needs to experience something 21 times before the neural pathway is solidly developed in the brain. The more you practice the easier it becomes until it becomes automatic. Understand that no changes are over night. There may be some relapses and that is okay, anything worth attaining takes work!
If you still find that you are having a difficult time please feel free to come in. I (Jessica) would be more than willing to help you reach your goals, whether it be to stop biting your nails, losing weight, increasing self-esteem, increase motivation, letting go of fear or anxiety, or any other goal you can imagine! We can use Energy psychology technique Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT AKA Tapping) as well as hypnosis to help clear out any blocks, create new associations, and help to make new habits.