It’s that time of year again. Time when we start dreaming about change and planning how we will be achieving our goals in the New Year. Unfortunately it doesn’t always feel so easy to make the changes in reality. Making resolutions to lose weight while the Christmas chocolates are calling you. Promising yourself that you’ll quit smoking, find a new job, get fitter, visit Australia, you name it. I know this because we all do it. The problem is, if you reflect on the year that’s about to end, you may find that it looks very like lots of other years. Your New Year’s Resolutions are similar to last year because you attacked them in the same way as last year.
There’s a saying that if you do things the same way, you get the same result. This is so true. Full of intention at the end of December and beginning of January then you gently drift into the same old same old. The problem is that your brain is living in the past. We know this because science has shown this so many times. We do what we know and what we always do. We have pathways in our brain that drive us to do the same thing time and again because that’s what we do. So what stands in our way to stop us achieving our goals?
We impose the past on our future and the result is that things stay just the same as they’ve always been.
To change the way we feel, to change our behaviour, we need to change the way that we think. Our thoughts drive our behaviour. Trying to change behaviour when the thoughts remain the same unfortunately results in failure every time. For those wanting to lose weight, thinking that you want to eat a biscuit but trying not to leads to the feeling of deprivation and when you cave in, you don’t eat one biscuit, you eat the packet. Sound familiar?
This isn’t just about weight loss, it can be applied to all areas in your life. Your brain does what it knows best and when you try to fight it cold, the habit, routine and learned behaviour will always come shining through.
So why do some people succeed while others seemingly always tread the path of no change? In simple terms, some people learn that they need to think differently, feel differently and expect the desired goal to happen and then they’re well on their way to creating and achieving their goal. Those who find themselves back at square one unfortunately do so because with the best will in the world, they are basing new behaviour on previous experience and if their desired goals don’t tend to materialize, despite their perceived commitment at the beginning of the year, it’s because they are still thinking in the same way as they have always done.
Therefore the theory must follow that to make changes in 2017, you have to think and feel differently about yourself and your goal than you did in previous years unless you want to achieve the same outcome that you have in previous years.
This of course may be what you do want to do. If you’re in a good place in aspects of your life and you want to maintain them, keep doing the same thing – you’ve cracked it! If however you don’t want the same thing, you need to start thinking differently now. Think it, feel it, imagine what life is like when it’s already happening. You need to be there already in your head to make it happen in your life. If you live in the future as ‘I’ll be happy when …’ then guess what? You’re pushing it further away and you’ll also believe that you can’t be happy until it happens which puts even more pressure on your need to get there. Live it, feel it, think it, imagine how it feels now. Give your brain the information it needs to get you there.
If you are ready for change but need some help in achieving your goals, there are a number of ways that I can help you. Please get in touch at Catherine@berkshiretherapist.co.uk for more information.