You can keep your New Year's
Let's face it. We often find ourselves making the same New Year's resolutions year after year, despite the best of intentions and the most solemn of vows. Why is this?
We've noticed that there is an aspect of New Year's resolutions that tends to foil the best of intentions. People consider the habits that they intend to change in isolation from the rest of their lives. We suggest that there may be much to be gained by considering the larger context.
TWO TYPES OF RESOLUTION
Typically a resolution amounts either to a decision to begin to practice a good or desireable habit or to a decision to give up a bad habit.
When people take on a new goal, many times they are adding it to a life that is already very full. This is no more practical than trying to put a thirteenth egg in a carton. If your life is full, you will have to remove something before you can add something.
When people try to give up on an unpleasant or inadvisable habit, the need to make room for the change is less obvious. But the bad habit, whatever problems it causes, is there because it fulfills some need (or needs) that you will have to satisfy in some less familiar, initially awkward way. For example, if you decide to cut down on drinking, you need to find new ways to relax and socialize, which at first may be less familiar and will require more effort.
WHOLE SYSTEMS THINKING
Changing your most stubborn habits is not to be considered in isolation from the rest of your life.
Think about what it is in your environment that is encouraging you to behave in ways other than you intend. Work on ways to encourage the behaviors you prefer. Try to engage support from your family and friends. You may be surprised at how supportive others around you may be about change. Don't feel tied to how others think of you. Encourage those around you to encourage you.
Most importantly, make time for your new goal, even if it is mainly about giving something up! Make appointments with yourself or someone you trust to evaluate your progress. Put times in your calendar to evaluate, troubleshoot, and recommit.
Don't aim too low. Choose the goal that would result in the biggest improvement for your life. Then stick to the goal. Don't allow yourself or others to dwell on any failures you might encounter. Note them dispassionately, and try to figure out how to avoid them in the future. A failure to behave as you intended can be treated as an opportunity to learn. Missing the goal is not a good thing, but it's not the same thing as abandoning the goal. Keep the goal!
Remember that changing a habit amounts to developing a skill rather than learning a concept. Don't be hard on yourself for initial failures and don't give up. Keep practicing just as if you were learning a hobby or work skill. Don't think of your resolution as a decision that you can implement by just flipping a switch. Think of it as an ongoing project, and make room for it in your life.
WE CAN HELP
We can help you think about your goals and plan toward achieving them. Get in touch with Ducks-in-a-Row ® Efficiency Consultants (TM) and we will be pleased help you get your ducks in a row.
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