A resolution is just a thought and as many of us have noticed—especially those of us who practice mindfulness or meditation—we have very little control over our thoughts. It doesn’t take any effort to think about getting a promotion, or speaking more confidently, or exercising. Thoughts arise and disappear. In the “real world” (where action happens), a positive action requires effort.
When we make a resolution (have the ‘thought’ of doing something), our body (the action-making machine) tends to ignore it, because our body does what it is used to doing. In physics, we learn about inertia. The definition of inertia is: “A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.” Y
Yep, it’s a real thing demonstrated to us in our everyday behavior. That’s why most resolutions aren’t realized.
Unless we have act on our plan to physically change our behavior, resolutions remain thoughts. And, as is the nature of thoughts, they arise and disappear.
A good way to observe this in your own life is to begin a practice of mindfulness. And, no I DON’T mean make a resolution to start practicing mindfulness, but just start noticing what you’re thinking and what you’re doing—right now. The more you practice, on a moment-by-moment basis, the more likely you will be to self-correct in the moment. If you want to do less of something: for example, looking at Facebook when you should be working, resolving to do that won’t accomplish it. But by observing yourself, your intent will help you close your Facebook browser tab or application as soon you notice yourself doing it.
We typically have trouble self-correcting, because we do things habitually or from a reactionary pattern. We never actually see ourselves doing them, until we complete the action. Being mindful is the process needed to accomplish change.
In a blog article I wrote, Get to Know Yourself to Get Over Yourself (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/get-know-yourself-over-wendy-haylett/), I suggested this practice to actually take action, rather than ‘resolving’ to take action: “A suggestion to build the habit of looking at your mind is to check-in with yourself, instead of checking Facebook or your email, at least every other time you do check your email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you pick up your phone twice every hour, skip the half-hour check and check-in with yourself. Do this all day, every day for 3 weeks.”
Maybe a realistic professional resolution is not to make a resolution, but to first look inside and observe our thoughts and behaviors, then act in each moment to adjust what we don’t like. A resolution by its nature can become a “should.” As I mentioned earlier, our body is not always responsive to shoulds.
Pay attention to what is right in front of you. Mindfulness of what is in front of you means you can’t think about your fears, resolutions, shoulds, and plans. You will naturally act on, or interact with, what is happening in the moment. If you habitually do that, your behavior will change, in alignment what needs to be done.
Gregg Krech of the ToDo Institute (http://www.todoinstitute.org/), who wrote the book The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology, says taking action is “doing what needs to be done when it need to be done in response to the needs of the situation.”
Start right now. Did you resolve to read more? Then do it! Read a chapter of the book next to your bed, right now. Did you resolve to do more writing? Open a Word document or your journal and write something—anything—for ten minutes, next. Did you resolve to eat more fruit. Then grab an apple and feel good about your year! You started it right!
Tip #8 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is about Ch-ch-CHANGES!
David Bowie "Changes" - YouTube
"Turn and face the strange
Pretty soon now you're gonna get older . . ."
This, from one of my favorite songs in life by the late David Bowie, sums up how I dance around change: "Pretty soon now you're gonna get older." As a Buddhist, impermanence is not a concept I run from or avoid. I have embraced and I live with impermanence as a guiding force.
And yet, and yet... Earlier in life the thought of getting older was interesting. A decade or so ago, I realized the "pretty soon" margin of error had disappeared. And now, at 65, well—even though they say 65 is the new 45—65 is the sort of default characterization of old, isn't it?
Getting OLDER is still a motivator, though. I still have goals I want to achieve. I still have dreams. Most of these are different than the ones I had even 2 years ago and WAY different that the ones I had at 45. That's the thing about impermanence. Everything keeps changing.
Most of us hate change. We feel change is hard. Or that we don't have the personality or strength to deal with change.
We have all experienced change, though, haven't we? We got through and lived to tell about it. We succeeded at it!
A couple of things to realize about change, as we think of our change history and the changes we still would like to make, is:
⏩ Change is a cycle.
⏩ You have succeeded in facing and accomplishing change.
Where are you in the cycle of wanting to make some Ch-Ch-Changes?
✅ Breaking Point?
If you are "bad" at making changes or are currently stuck at one of the stages in the above change cycle, can you remember from navigating change in your past what it was that snapped you out of it and forced you to do something? Was it PAIN or EXTREME PAIN or was it SELF-HONESTY?And what are the reasons that you let yourself be victimized by the change cycle AGAIN!
✅ You don't want to change
✅ You don't know what you want
✅ Your dream isn't big enough
✅ You're letting your fear be bigger than you
✅ You are attached to your problem
✅ You are benefiting from your problem
Take some time reflect on when you made big changes in the past and see if you can remember the cycle you went through and how you finally got out of the cycle to make the change.
Then look at the cycle of change again and ask yourself where are you now? At fear? Discontent? Where? And why aren't you moving past that point? Look at the reasons again. Any of those describe why you can't move toward change?
This is an exercise of self-honesty and it is the most productive way to SNAP YOU OUT OF IT! Take some time with this exercise, so that you can avoid the OTHER way of initiating change: PAIN!
2 More Tips remain in this series. Look for them!
Tip #7 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is to ENVISION YOU living your goal or goals.
Open a Word doc, your journal, or grab a piece of paper and write a VISION STATEMENT that will help you realize living as if you have already attained your goals. Do this as free-writing: Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write about your ideal life, career, home, family, relationship, travel ... whatever your goals. Do a stream-of-consciousness 'brain dump'. Don't think to much. Just spew the contents of your mind on the paper or document.
When the 5 minutes are up, reread your free-writing and edit it to make sure you are writing using the 4 P's:
✅ Use PERSONAL statements (I, me).
✅ Write in PRESENT tense, as if it's happening now.
✅ Use only POSITIVE words, not DON'T, NOT, etc.
✅ Write with PASSION. Feel it, use emotion, describe!
After you've completed your vision statement, you can expand the activity to create a VISION BOARD, using photos, graphics, or other representations that can keep you focused on your goal.
Next up: Dealing with fear of change.
Tip #6 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is YOUR BIG WHY! You can't accomplish something if you don't know WHY you want to.
And your real WHY is probably not the why you answer first. Your WHY needs to BIG enough to energize your motivation every day.
What are the real reasons for pursuing your goal? How do you find that out? By asking yourself "Why?" continuously.
Try this exercise:
✅ What is your goal?
✅ Why do you want to achieve it?
✅ What about the outcome makes you want to achieve it?
✅ And WHY do you want that?
Keep going until you've dug deep into the core of you and the REAL reason!
Next up: Creating a vision of you living your goal.
Continuing my "Grab Your Goals" theme, I will share something—that at first glance—seems to go against my goal strategy and practice.
Reggie Rivers suggests that if you want to achieve your goals, don't focus on them.
He has something there and I agree with his concept that "The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them."
I enjoyed his talk. I think you will, too.
Tip #5 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is selecting the top 4 of your one-year goals to focus on during a structured goal program. (Message me if you're interested and we'll talk).
What 4 goals will have the biggest impact on a change or shift in your direction toward what you REALLY want? In my program, I guide clients to goal achievement through multiple focus areas.
An important area is discovering your "BIG WHY" or having a BIG enough reason to keep going and keep motivated. Working with exercises around your BIG WHY is critical to having a vision and direction. Without that, trying to accomplish "goals" can be a confusing and frustrating time-waster!
Clarifying your BIG WHY gets your subconscious mind involved and, without that, you are working on only half your available cylinders.
Next up: Having a big enough reason. Steering your actions—your hows— by your BIG WHY.
Tip #4 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is making sense and rationalizing your list.
Now that you have separate lists for within 1 year, 3 years, 5, years, or 10 years, you have created a rational structure to order short-term and long-term goals, and those in-between. Don't worry if you go back and forth between labeling a goal as a 3 or 5 ... or moving it to 10. This is exactly why this activity works. It makes you REALLY consider goals as a possibility.
Another fun way to complete this task more visually is to create a vision board - on paper or computer. Make "buckets" or columns for 1-year, 3-year, and so forth. Then cut your individual goals into separate pieces of paper (or digital chunks/boxes with each indicated by a different color, font, or with a graphic/picture) and shuffle them around until you've put things into perspective.
Doing this will help you see them as real, not as an idea or fleeting thought. And it will prepare you for the next important step.
Next up: Selecting the most important of your 1 year goals to focus on for the coaching program.
Tip #3 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is to get your goals down on paper.
You MAY have a clear goal in mind, but there may be others attached. There is rarely anything in life that we think about that doesn't come all jumbled up with a lot of other thoughts and desires.
Part of this program is to get clear and get real! Writing your goals down makes it a concrete thing and sends a message to your unconscious mind that you mean business!
Take a piece of paper or Word doc and write as many things you can think of that you'd like to do, achieve, experience, or have in your life. This isn't really a bucket list, though, because it includes career, personal growth, financial, health, relationships, and fun. You can look at all areas or focus on one,
OK, here's the challenge: Write down AT LEAST 50 things. If you want to combine or organize those 50 things into different categories, that's fine.
After you have your list of 50, think about how long it will take to accomplish each one. Create a timeline ordering scheme, from 1 to 10 years. A 1 indicates you're ready to work on this NOW, a 3 is for the near future, a 5 is for in-between short- and long-term, and a 10 is long-term.
Next up: Making sense of this big list.
Tip #2 from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program is about determining if the goal in mind is really yours and if it will keep you motivated: How does it make you feel?
We rationalize, analyze, and strategize. But the truth is, we do things—or don't do things—because of how they make us feel. Or how we think they will make us feel.
Think about your life. EVERYTHING you ever really wanted in your life was because you thought it would make you feel good or feel better. You want something because your think it will make you feel satisfied, more fulfilled ... or proud, accomplished ... or relief ... or joy ... or free.
Ho does the goal you're considering make you feel? Do you feel excited? Empowered? Or do you feel resistant? Burdened? If you don't feel excited when you imagine attaining the goal, then maybe it isn't really YOURS?
Or start here to find your goal: How do you WANT to feel? What will it take for you to feel that?
Next tip up: Making a list of goals.
It's finally Spring here in Rochester, NY and I'm excited to announce 2 NEW coaching programs: "Grab Your Goals" and "Soothing Job Search Overwhelm." I will be sharing helpful hints from both throughout the coming weeks so Watch. This. Space!
Quick tip from my new "Grab Your Goals" coaching program: 1st step in achieving a goal is knowing EXACTLY what it is. Is the goal your own? Or are other people calling the shots in your head?
Is it what YOU really want?
You won't have a smidgen of a chance of accomplishing a goal if YOU don't REALLY want it. You will never follow through with what is needed to be done toward your goal, when your motivation is lagging or other things overwhelm, if the goal isn't truly yours.
In my next tip I'll offer an easy way to determine if a goal is really yours and if it is one that will keep you empowered.
I was intrigued from the first moment I read the bold claim accredited to Socrates that "the unexamined life is not worth living" and it has been a touchstone throughout my life. And, through the power of hindsight, I see its influence powering many of my career choices and life activities.