What separates the people who keep their New Year’s resolutions from the ones who don’t? How do you stack the odds in your favor, so that, instead of starting the new year with a disappointment, you hit the bullseye and get just what you said you would?
I don’t often quote Shakespeare here, but I’m reminded of the scene in Henry IV, Part 1, when Glendower bragged, “I can call the spirits from the vasty deep.” To this Hotspur scoffed, “Why, so can I, or so can any man! But do they come, when you do call for them?”
So when it’s time for you to call something from the vasty deep, just calling might not be enough. You might want, say, a hook with the right kind of bait on it, and a line from the hook to a fishing rod, and a good place on shore or in a boat to hang out until you get a bite. And a resolution that that’s more than a wish, but a commitment to spend the time, money and effort that’s needed to bring your catch to shore. Maybe it’ll be quick and easy and maybe it’ll be a long haul, but it’s the people who show up day after day who catch the fish.
So a resolution is more than a wish, but should it be an actual, worked-out plan? I don’t think so. After all, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and the biggest obstacle isn’t the details of the journey, but just in making it out the front door. You want more of a plan than the unfocused gung-ho of the WWI cavalrymen of 99 years go, whose motto was, “We’ll do it! … What is it?” But that gung-ho is important!
Here are some hypno-tips for keeping your New Year’s Resolution.
- Imagine wild success. What will it look like, feel like, sound like, when you achieve your goal? Put yourself in the scene, happy and proud. Are other people happy and proud, too? Put them in the picture, too.
- Now think about the obstacles that might get in your way, perhaps imagining them as potholes on the road to success, the road with that happy picture of success at the end of it. The road to success is something of an obstacle course, but that’s okay. Imagine yourself approaching each obstacle, keeping the happy ending in mind, and dodging or overcoming each obstacle in turn, until you reach your goal.
- Plan to make mistakes, and mentally rehearse returning to normal. If you’re on a diet, you need to know in your bones that if you pig out on a bag of Chips Ahoy today, that’s a lapse, but it’s not a relapse. You’re still in the game. Pigging out today gives you exactly zero permission to wallow in either guilt or more cookies tomorrow. Just climb back up on that horse that threw you. You’ll be amazed at how good that feels.
- Hypnosis is helpful, both for finding motivation and for changing habits more automatically. A lot of recent research has shown (not to anyone’s surprise) that we all have limited reserves of willpower, but the actions we perform habitually don’t require much willpower, so the better our habits suit our needs, the less we have to force ourselves to do the right thing, day in and day out. It becomes automatic.
- As long as you keep plugging away, and especially if you’re willing to try different things until you find one that works, you’re still in the game. You get a lot more than three strikes before you’re out in the game of life.
Happy New Year!