New year's resolutions inspire us. They provide the motivation for establishing new patterns that can change the course of our personal lives and businesses.
Find a New Groove
When you were young, you were free to explore. At that stage in your life you delighted in every discovery, whether is was exciting or icky. Naturally, you learned to look for ways to repeat those moments of delight, with the hopes of avoiding the icky ones.
Little did you know that while you were learning you were forming behavioral patterns that would last a lifetime – driven by fears and desires. We all seek pleasure as we try to avoid pain. The process is simple until we discover that what seemed so exciting yesterday just doesn't work anymore.
Why? Because you've been there before. So, you need a larger dose of it to achieve the same result. I use the word dose as a metaphor, but sadly it is often reality. That is to say that seeking the same pleasures in the same way can result in destructive addictions.
Think of playing your favorite song over and over again. After a while that groove on the album doesn't deliver the same effect – the same pleaure. And its the same with so many other influences in our lives.
The only solution is to get a new groove.
Human beings are designed to grow in many ways. This starts with physical and then emotional growth, and as we mature, we discover how to grow in more refined ways. This include sports, the arts, education, and spiritual growth.
Growth often suggests more, because our early experience of growing is one of getting bigger, stronger, and more capable. As we reach early adulthood, our physical capabilities level off. Sorry, but that's how it works.
Yet, this realization helps us to discover new purposes that motivate us toward new, and often, more sustainable types of growth. Think of Superman. When he discovered he had superhuman qualities, he initially used them for juvenile purposes – showing off.
To continue to grow he had to find ways to use them for more practical purposes – serving the community of Metropolis.
Notice Your Conditioned Patterns
If you focus on results (your desired future) – which is what new year's resolutions are, your conditioned patterns (where you have been) will work against you. They effectively reinforce the activities that keep you on the path that you have grown accustomed to.
Somehow you have to find the resolve to do what everyone else may suggest is the wrong course of action – changing direction. However, that is the only way to learn how to grow and achieve your new goals.
If your resolution is to lose weight, an example of this may be changing when, what, and how much you eat. This summer I dropped nearly 20 pounds in 2 months when I realized on one particular occasion that eating 3 carrots for dinner was enough to satiate my hunger.
That aha moment changed years of eating patterns. The result, I easily achieved my goal. To be honest, it only happened because my family was out of town. There was nobody there to reinforce that old pattern most of us grew up with – eating a "square" meal.
What patterns do you live by that you or everyone around you has convinced you are normal.
Patterns are habits. Some are working for you and some aren't. You have to take notice and change a few of them – and I do mean a few. Starting with ONE may be the best way to move to the next level.
Patterns are Sticky
Patterns are like the grooves in a record, they don't change. One of my lifelong patterns is excercise. I have always enjoyed running, biking, or otherwise doing what keeps me fit. It's an habitual pattern that I don't have to work on.
For this reason, when I set a fitness goal – which you could think of as a resolution, I usually achieve it. My conditioned patterns work for me in this department.
However, my conditioned pattern of seeking new information, which I could easily describe as an addiction, prevent me from accomplishing other goals. I love learning, so my achilles heal is an insatiable desire to read the news – which these days includes over 50 blogs – every day!
Sure, this enhances my expertise, but it gets in the way of achieving other results through the practical application of that information.
Change Your Environment
When any living creature is put into a new environment it has to make adjustments. The tendency will be to recreate the old patterns in the new environment.
But that is when your resolutions come to your rescue. You know what you need to accomplish to grow, so you should use the environment as an opportunity to develop more productive patterns.
New year's resolutions fail because going back to the same environment engages the old patterns that produced yesterday's results. The mind in incredibly powerful in this regard. Did you know that of the nearly 100,000 thoughts you have every day, approximately 95% of them are the same ones you had yesterday?
That's conditioning – and your environment reinforces it. Changing your environment can be very effective for jump starting your forward progress.
Your mind can be a great ally when you understand how it can work for you or against you. The key is not fighting it, but using it to build productive patterns that are aligned with your goals.
Focus on patterns and the resolutions will arrive on their own time. I promise you will be delighted with the results!
If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll be glad to help. – Jeff
Photo Credit: stevecadman