As we transitioned from 2018 to 2019 you may have chosen to engage in the long-held tradition of creating a New Years Resolution. Did you know that Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts? This is not a new trend. It is a tradition that is embedded in our cellular memories. Rare is the person who is not asked about New Year’s resolutions come January 1st. Culturally it is a time where a year in review is encouraged as well as goal setting for the year ahead. However, a quick google search on New Year’s resolutions can take one quickly down the dark path. 80% of New Year’s resolutions evidently fail. It seems that more and more people have become disillusioned with the tradition and many have moved into the place of…why bother? They don’t work anyway. Or do they?
As a life coach, at the end of each session with me, a homework assignment is given. It can come from the client, it can be co-created by the two of us and once and awhile it comes from me. On very special occasions I pull out my game show voice and give my clients a challenge. This is a double dare moment. In the spirit of coaching, I always inform my clients they have a choice. They can choose to take on the challenge, they can choose to say no or they can give me a counter offer. Homework assignments always move my clients from here to there. In other words, they always create movement.
Weekly homework assignments within the coaching context are a lot like new years resolutions. Even if people fail to achieve their specific new year’s resolution, we cannot deny the fact that they are a lot further ahead of people who chose not to have a resolution. What the research does not measure is that even though someone did not achieve their specific goal, they may have reached another goal that brought them that much closer to fulfillment[/inlinetweet]. Or they may have had a new learning or insight that would not even be on their radar had they not named a resolution. Again, leaving them in the position of being further ahead of someone who chose not to set a goal or intention.Even though someone did not achieve their specific goal, they may have reached another goal that brought them that much closer to fulfillment. Click To Tweet
It is not uncommon during the first few weeks of coaching that a client shamefully reports (often before even sitting down) that they didn’t do their homework. They look like the kid in the classroom that forgot their homework and is publicly humiliated by their teacher. In these moments I remind my clients that this is a judgment-free zone and that if they didn’t follow through with their assignment we get curious. We explore the resistance. We explore what they learned about themselves by not doing the assignment and the outcome. It is important to note that my clients almost always did do the homework assignment after all. They just found their own way. It may have looked different and clearly would be overlooked had we not gotten curious. Maybe they didn’t get to the gym but they ended up hiking their dog three times that week. Perhaps they didn’t quit their job, but they did network with three new people in a week.
Over the years I have observed that people are much more likely to reach their goals and make good on their resolutions by following a formula.
1. Establish a judgment-free zone.
Judging ourselves (or judging others) keeps us stuck. Language is powerful and whether we are talking out loud or silently, what we say has a significant impact. If our intention is to lose weight and we make comments like, “I was bad last night because I ate chocolate” or I was lazy this past week, I didn’t exercise,” I can almost guarantee you will not lose weight. And if you do and continue with negative language you will more than likely fall into the category of gaining all your lost weight back in six months. Reframing negative thoughts into positive and realistic thoughts is a must.
- (negative thought pattern) I was bad last night, I ate too much!
(positive reframe) I went to the party last night on an empty stomach and I overate. Next time, I am going to have a snack before I go out so I can stay with my goal.
- (negative thought pattern) I was lazy last week, I didn’t exercise.
(positive reframe) I realize I am getting to bed too late and need more rest so I can stay with my morning workout. This week I am setting a reminder to be in bed by 10 pm.
- (negative thought pattern) I am failing again, I never achieve my goals.
(positive reframe)I am having a hard time staying with my goals. I am going to ask for support so I can move past feeling stuck in my life.
2. Set goals/intentions/resolution.
- What would you like to achieve in 2019?
3. Doing a deep dive/exploring your WHY?
- What’s important about your stated goal/intention/resolution?
- Why now?
- What’s important about it?
- How would your life be different if you achieved your goal/resolution?
4. Get specific with your goals/intentions. Make them measurable!
- (non-specific) I want to lose weight.
(specific) In six months I intend to weigh 140 lbs. By January 1st, 2020 my intention is to weight 130 lbs.
- (non-specific) I want to travel this year.
(specific) I intend to spend two weeks in Ethiopia this December.
- (non-specific) I want to be happy.
(specific) I intend to do what I love this year and every month I will spend the third weekend of every month engaging in things that make me happy. For example, a horseback riding excursion, a weekend getaway with my girlfriends, camping with my family, painting and drawing, etc. etc.
5. Establish your path to achieve your goals. Again, get very specific.
For example, In order to achieve my goal of weighing 140 lbs in six months I will:
- Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Put away my regular plates and eat all of my meals on our smaller dessert plates.
- Refrain from eating between 7 pm and 9 am.
- Run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 1.5 miles.
- Do yoga every Thursday and Saturday.
- Weigh myself each morning to use as a gage for progress.
6. Find an accountability partner or life coach
I believe that my clients are successful because of accountability. Each week they show up for a 50-minute session dedicated just to them. They are immersed in that ongoing reminder of who they are at their core and what that really want. They are also encouraged to be in contact in between sessions to help them “keep their eye on the prize.” A texting buddy can also be helpful. Someone in your life that is just as excited and motivated as you are to support you and themselves in creating a life that is fulfilling. It can be so helpful when we are trying to establish a new habit to have someone cheering us on.Resolutions, goals, and intentions lead us to a permanent lifestyle change. Click To Tweet
Ultimately our resolutions/goals/intentions will lead us to a permanent lifestyle change. A change that can connect us to who we really are at our core. The formula is designed in such a way where you forward the motion. Rarely going back to habits that didn’t serve you. We have all been given a life purpose. And we all know when we are astray. Perhaps 2019 will be the year you reunite with the deeper YOU. Please come and join the Evolution Revolution. We have never needed you more. Happy New year!