Honestly, most people are frustrated making the same resolutions over and over again, and never to make progress or a change in their lives. Usually they start the new year with good intentions such as working out regularly, cutting down on junk food, eating healthily, studying or worker harder, yet in a couple of weeks into January, the old habits starts to arise again.
But notice that some people are quite successful in changing their habits? For some reason, they tend to stick to their goals year round. To them, the end of the year is the time to measure where they’ve landed personally, to measure their progress and to set forth better and higher goals for the upcoming year.
So.. what is the difference between the two people on who stick to their goals or New Year’s resolutions and those who don’t? Honestly, what is your opinion on the differences between those people who have reached their goals in terms of weight loss, fitness, commitments, relationships, new wealth and those who give up? From my research based on countless books I personally read from and NLP training that my dad put me into, it is not from their willpower, luck, genetics, how fancy or near their gym is or how ”tied-up” they are, or any other reasoning that people give for not reaching their goals.
The differences of those who had achieved and those who don’t, or between those who successfully improved or change their behavior long-term, and those who repetitively doing the same old things yearly,..the answer to it is pretty simple.
People who change their behavior over the long run also change the beliefs that cause their behavior.
Let’s put it in another way, it is nearly impossible to make long-term changes to your behavior without also changing the way you think!
Lets use the example of fitness, since that’s a pretty common New Years Resolution that most people can relate to. The people who keep going to the gym week after week, and go from fat to fit after a full year of solid effort are the people who didn’t just make a pledge to go to the gym, but who actually managed to change their entire attitude or perception towards exercising and fitness.
And the people who fail to stick to their New Years resolutions? Usually, they are those who just try to change their behavior, without addressing the underlying beliefs and thought patterns that cause the behavior in the first place!
For me the big change in my fitness lifestyle happened when I stopped seeing going to the gym as a chore I did to get something, and instead started seeing it as a reward in itself. I adopted the thought patterns and beliefs of an athlete. If you talk to really fit people they all have this exact same attitude. Seriously.
For example, fit people or ”deeply motivated people in fitness” say things like
“When I have a hard day at work, need to workout ‘lah’ to overcome stress” -Some Asian Gymrat
“a good workout energizes me”. -For eg. Some guy
Demotivated people say things like:
“Eh work whole day ‘liao’, too tired ‘lah’ to workout” – Some Asian Guy
“No more energy ‘lah’ to workout, so tiring today from work”
-Another Asian Guy
Do you see the difference? For the ‘fit’ person, a workout is so much beneficial to him and a source of stress reliever, but for the demotivated person, a workout is just an addition of stress to his or her life. They regard it as something you ‘maybe’… do to lose weight and look fit or aesthetic or whatsoever, but not something you would do unless you had to.
People who see workouts or exercising as chores and find every excuse to avoid them, such as people who skips leg day for example. And by continuing this act will may provide them limited results.. but they won’t change their lifestyle at a deep level. But for somehow you can change your attitude towards by working out because one of the best skills we can learn from is by motivating your own self.
I would like to give credit to Shahrizal, owner of www.tehtarikmemoirs.com, for providing me these step by step guide to reach my New Year’s goals.
So, how do you personally change your attitude and beliefs to stick to your New Year’s Goals?
There are two parts to changing your beliefs – the first part is addressing and dealing with negative beliefs you might have accumulated that hold you back, and the second is creating new positive beliefs that motivate you towards success.
If you have never even tried to get into shape before, you may not have any negative attitudes towards exercising, and so you can skip the first step. But if your New Year’s resolution is something that you’ve tried to do before and failed, it’s very likely you have a belief that is holding you back.
Step One – Diagnose the problem: If you have failed to achieve your goals in the past, close your eyes, and try to visualize the moment where you had trouble. Not literally close your eyes, but start thinking so. For example, if you previously procrastinated and made excuses not to go to the gym, visualize yourself getting ready to go to the gym. Personally I’ll visualize the results I am aiming for before working out. If you visualize this accurately, you are going to experience an emotional reaction at some point that makes you want to procrastinate. What is the emotion you feel when the urge to procrastinate hits you? How does it feel? Is it a feeling of dread, or anxiety, or obligation? It may help to write this down.
Once you have identified the emotion that you you associate with this task, explore it a little, analyze it. Where does it come from? If you could express that emotion as a thought, what would the thought be? For me it was “working out is a hassle”. For you it could be “working out is tiring”, “the gym got no hot guys or girls”, “I don’t fit in lah”, “people are looking at me”, “I don’t feel like it’s working” “I’m too busy”. It doesn’t need to be just one belief, sometimes there are several beliefs holding you back!
Sometimes, the subconscious beliefs that are holding us back are completely contrary to the FACTS we know in our mind. For example, often people subconsciously believe or “feel” that exercise won’t “work” for them, despite the fact that they know that proper exercise is virtually guaranteed to lead to better health for everyone!
Once you have identified a limiting belief, think about it a bit. Is that belief rational? Is there a simple way to go about changing it? If you believe, for example, that your gym is inconveniently dirty or smelly, you really have two options: you can find a nicer gym, or you can learn to accept the gym you have. However, the third option – forcing yourself to go to a gym you find disgusting, is setting yourself up for failure because ”you need to go through a storm to see a rainbow.”
Step Two – Create an Antidote: Once you have identified the limiting belief that is holding you back, the next step is to work towards changing that belief. Sometimes, it is enough for us to simply realize that our beliefs are irrational or counterproductive, but often a deep-seated belief requires work, or mental exercise to eliminate.
Most people, when dealing with an irrational belief, try to suppress their negative thoughts. So they might say “the gym isn’t smelly” or “stop thinking that working out is a chore”, however, this is counter productive. You can’t think of a negative – instead, you need to distract yourself, and replace the negative thought with a positive thought.
So for me, because my negative belief was “working out is a hassle”, I decided to replace my belief with “working out is fun”. If your limiting belief is “working out is too tiring”, change that to the more useful belief “working out gives me energy in the long run”, if your limiting belief is that the gym is gross or uncomfortable for some reason ( for example), the antidote is accepting the gym for what it is.
Step Three: Administer the Antidote – now that you have figured out what new beliefs you want to instil in yourself, the next step is to try to drill these beliefs deep down into your brain. It’s not enough to just consciously think these new thoughts, you need to practice them until they are part of your natural way of looking at the world. Here are two good ways to drill yourself into acquiring new beliefs.
- Affirmations: Just as exercise shapes or molds your body, thinking or saying things over and over to yourself shape your habitual thought patterns. When I started changing my beliefs about exercise, I would be on the treadmill saying “exercise is fun!” over and over to myself and keeping my eye out on the prize. It maybe silly, but over the course of just a few weeks it really changed my attitude towards exercise in a deep way.
- Visualization: Visualization is a very powerful way to change your deep behavior. When you visualize something, in great detail, your subconscious tends to treat it as if it were a real experience. When I’m on the treadmill, jogging, instead of visualizing wanting to go home and watch YouTube, I would visualize myself feeling stronger and healthier and more energetic with every step, for example. Suddenly, the “burn” of working out was a positive thing, and not a negative thing. So just turn your new belief into a visualization, and make it as real as possible. That means using smell, taste, feelings and sound as well.
Step 4: Experience: Finally, you need to go out and follow through on your commitments diligently, to make them into new habits. There is no real change without action! There are somewhat quotes I personally used to motivate myself which are the 3 C’s. Chance, Choice and Change.
Follow these four steps and I guarantee you you’ll find it so much easier to follow through on your New Year’s resolutions that next year you’ll feel motivated to pursue even greater challenges. And just remember, you can’t change your behavior in the long term unless you change your way of thinking or some sort like that. Good Luck!