It is when we take a closer look at the nature of broken resolutions and neglected goals that we realize that the promises that we repeatedly make and break to ourselves are harmful and left to nest at the back of our minds, they grow roots of self-defeat that can suck the life out of our hopes and dreams.
Am I being too melodramatic? You tell me. What I know for sure is that the more often we break promises to ourselves, the easier it gets to break them. Think of that fitness club membership that you never use. Didn’t things start downhill with the first time you broke that Tuesday night promise to work out? And the more often we break our promises to ourselves the easier it gets and the less likely we are to achieve our goals and live our dreams.
So what can you do to make promises to yourself that you will keep? At the risk of vaguely sounding like your mother, the key to succeeding here is knowledge. Knowing WHAT you want to achieve is very important. Knowing WHY is even more important. And knowing HOW the why connects to your core values is absolutely essential.
Using one of THE New Year’s resolution classics as an example, here is how it works. Imagine your big 2013 goal is to lose 15 pounds. That is your what. Now, why do you want to lose 15 pounds? If your response is something like, “so, I can look better,” I now challenge you to connect “so I can look better” to one of your innermost values. If you have difficulty doing this, your resolution is already well down the path of defeat. Why? Because even at the most basic level, we are wired for a purpose-driven life; we want things to matter to us and make a difference in our lives (and depending on our values, in the whole world.)
Do you feel an argument, welling up inside you? Perhaps you are thinking, “Hey lady, I really DO want to lose 15 pounds. And it is really important to me, darn it!” O.k. Then get to the bottom of “why”. Let’s go back to the goal and try to find out where “looking better” fits into what is at the core of who you are and what you value.
What would “looking better” really mean to you? Imagine you have lost the weight. Go through the whole scenario in your mind as if you are living one day in your new body. How do look now? How does that make you feel? What is now different about your day? Let’s say you now imagine yourself wearing a fabulous outfit as you join a group of friends or colleagues for cocktails at a really “in” place, that you didn’t feel comfortable going to before (nor did you get invited.) Perhaps, the core value that is crying out for attention is “a sense of belonging” or “the need to feel accepted”. How much more powerful is that connection than simply “looking better”? Understanding what is driving you to make resolutions and other promises to yourself and the world, will help you to address the real issues and exponentially increase your chances of reaching any goal.
So here’s another challenge from me to you: drag out all those resolutions nesting at the back of your mind – I know it may be a bit scary, but you can do it! Look at the what, examine the why and connect it to a core value. If you can’t connect the why to one of your core values, you may be trying to live up to something you think you “should” be doing, simply because the world says so and not because you truly want to achieve this. If you are able to connect the why to a core value, make sure that it is a positive value, anything else is just your inner critic trying to convince you that you are less than worthy and absolutely fabulous. (This is something else that I know for sure.) So clear out the parasites at the back of your mind, so you can put all your energy into making your dreams come true.
And just for the record, you don’t need to lose 15 pounds, or any weight at all, to be accepted and appreciated. Then again, you just may need to drop some dead weight superficial “friends”…