It’s the beginning of 2019 and with the risk of sounding super cliché, it’s the time that most of us have already realized that what we set out as our resolutions for the year to come have already seemed to become an afterthought and we are back to our usual daily grind and life has resumed as per usual. That was the most depressing sentence I have ever written in my entire life. Why is it that New Year’s resolutions are so much harder than any other goals we set for ourselves? My opinion, and yes, it is strictly my opinion, is that we don’t make these real goals. We say some ridiculous blanket statement like “this year I’m going to get healthy” or “this year I’m going to focus on me and my self-care” or “this year I’m going to take more vacations with my family”. As you can see, these are just words. These are not goals. A goal is of course a destination. By definition it is a person’s desired result. So, by definition these resolutions appear to be “goals”. They are a desired result…no?
No. What does it mean to “get healthy” or what does it look like to focus on yourself? What is your definition of self-care? And how many vacations do you want to take and to where and for how long? For any goal to be meaningful it absolutely has to be specific. So specific that you actually get excited just saying it out loud or writing it down or even thinking about it. To get to a specific place you must know what that place looks and feels like and how you are going to get there. Without those key factors, you’re really just daydreaming. Maybe this year you will take more vacations, or spend more time taking care of yourself. But will you even recognize your accomplishments of reaching these goals or sticking to your resolutions if they happen by accident? Many people are very successful and happy in life but not by intent. My opinion on why resolutions fail is because there is no plan put in place to measure your success along the way (or key performance indicators), and no intent behind any of the steps to get there. The excitement is lost because there really is no anticipation or something to look forward to.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a science nerd. The human body and the brain continue to amaze me daily. The human brain has one really cool capability. It is capable of change. So, despite what your beliefs are, the TRUTH is that people can change. But it takes some rewiring of the brain. That rewiring is actually easier than you may think. The term neuroplasticity is the brains ability to form new synaptic connections and reorganize existing connections, especially in response to learning or experience. In simple terms- practice makes perfect. Like anything, to elicit some sort of real change in ourselves, we first must recognize our current state, set out a specific goal of where we would like to be, and then allow our brain to practice forming the new connections it requires to make the goal our new reality versus a daydream. How the F%$# do we even do that?
There is a way to do it. I won’t say that it is “easy” but it is simple. It is a simple concept. You will have to be ready and willing to commit to it though and you will fall off the wagon from time to time. The thing with resolutions is that once we inevitably fall off the wagon, we just decide that we failed at our new year’s resolution. It’s so extreme. There is no room for error. Well that is not real life. So, if you want to set out an intentional goal for 2019 here is what you have to do:
Set a specific goal. Make a solid plan to reach that goal with deadlines and measurable markers that you are checking and holding yourself accountable to. Finally, and most importantly- PRACTICE. Your brain will always lead you to the destination that is most prominent in your thoughts. What you think about most of the time is what your brain sees as reality. So, if you want more money but all you do is worry that you have no money, your brain sees being in the red as reality and that my friend is where you are going to stay. The most successful people in the world use visualization to accomplish their goals.
Visualization is practicing. Your brain does not care if you are actually doing an activity or just visualizing it. The visualization is helping your brain to form the new neural pathways. It’s not easy and takes so much practice. But if you can rewire your brain to be focused on where you’re headed versus where you no longer want to be, and you continue to make the steps to get there, I promise you that you will become the person that your brain is learning that you already are. Visualization requires you to dive right in- you have to feel what it will feel like to get there. That way, when you get there, you will definitely know it. Live 2019 by intent, not by accident. Happy New Year Y’all!
Amanda Cooke, RMT