Keeping the Wind in Your Sails


Replacing Resolutions With Resolve, Part 2

It is a well-known fact that the simple act of making a resolution delivers an energy boost that often lands folks smack dab in the middle of a gym membership. And when that burst of energy that spurred action fades, many are left with a membership, yet no motivation. How do we keep ourselves striving for the change we seek and avoid the disappointment of yet another failed resolution? What steps can we take to keep up the momentum?

Last week’s article outlined the seven steps one must take in order to make change a reality and discussed how mapping out a vision for your resolutions creates clear and specific descriptions of what you want to change. For example, the fuzzy resolution “I want to lose weight” becomes clearer when it is restated as, “I want to lose 15 pounds by June 30, 2013.” To recap, the seven steps are:

1. Map out your vision for what you want to change
2. Identify your motivators as well as stuff that sucks the wind out of your sails
3. Make your list of available resources
4. Create your support network
5. Design your reward system to celebrate accomplishments
6. Write down your action steps and start
7. Evaluate your progress and return to Step 1

Let’s look at Step 2, identifying motivators. Generally, resolutions are rooted in dissatisfaction with the consequences of specific actions or habits, like smoking, or non-actions, like not exercising. For some, the dissatisfaction may be enough to provide the motivation required to stay the course. For the rest of us (which I can only assume is a much larger percentage), we need time to find the key that unlocks our passion for the change we seek. This key is often deeply rooted within and requires asking oneself the following questions to unearth it:

What does this change mean to you?
Why do you want this change?
What does NOT making this change cost you?

Several years ago, I had a client who called me because she was overwhelmed by the clutter in her home. Divorced with two teen-aged kids, she’d made a resolution to get her home organized, but wasn’t sure where to start. During the Assessment, I noticed that her bedroom was the most cluttered and disorganized room in her home. And in search of her motivating factor, I asked her each of these probing questions: “What does being organized mean to you?” Her answer was it means everything in her home has a place and is easy to find. Next, I asked her, “Why do you want to get organized?” She said she wanted to feel comfortable inviting people into her home and let her kids bring friends over. But her true motivator only became clear with her answer to, “What is the disorganization and clutter costing you?” She took a deep breath and sighed and began to explain that she’d been dating someone she really liked. Although she’d been out with him several times, she couldn’t bring herself to invite him into her home. She was too embarrassed by the clutter. For weeks, she’d been using her kids as an excuse for not letting him in, even though they were with her ex-husband. I said, “I have a hunch and I’d like to confirm it. Is it possible that you really want to get organized so that you can have sex in your bedroom?” I could see the spark of recognition as she burst out laughing. I encouraged her to use this to propel her while she worked on her Action Plan.

Facing the difficulty and uncertainty of change is uncomfortable, even when it is wholly positive and unhindered by dissatisfaction. The ease with which so many slip back into the grip of the devil they know proves that we’ve got to create resolve by digging deep and unearthing what will motivate us to stay on course. What answers do you come up with when you ask yourself these three probing questions? I encourage you to write down your answers and refer to them whenever you find your momentum flagging.

Did you make a resolution? Do you know what your motivators are? Have you written them down? I would love to hear how you are going to keep yourself on course. If you need some help unearthing your key for unlocking your passion for the change you seek, let me know. I want to help you keep your resolutions this year.

28 thoughts on “Keeping the Wind in Your Sails

  1. Sally Reply

    My resolution is to clean my home office…but I need a different motivator than your client!

    • Janine Post authorReply

      Sally, Do you need me to help you figure out your motivators? Happy to help! Thanks for posting, Mom!

  2. Nicole Reply

    I love the story! As an interior designer, I see so much disorganization and you hit it on the head when you explained the psychology behind it. Great post, Janine!

  3. Kelly Reply

    Janine… That was a fantastic blog! I just recently sent a piece about causes of clutter… But the motivators… Soooo much better! And the way you addressed the issue head on! You are brilliant!

  4. Janet Reply

    Hi Janine! First, I love how straightforward you are 🙂 Second, this is what *I* am doing right now to keep myself on track. First, my newborn is priority. But second, I’ve outlined a simple 4 task to-do list for my business and a “big projects” section of only 5 to-dos. The 4 tasks are those that I can routinize…the 5 are ones that I can delegate. Everything will get done. I am resolved. And, it’s reachable. Thanks! Janet

    • Janine Post authorReply

      Janet, you are a dynamo! I must commend you and acknowledge the ease with with you set up doable systems for yourself!

  5. phyllis Reply

    Janine–this is great and if you tackle things one at a time, great change takes place! Thanks for your post

    • Janine Post authorReply

      Thank you for commenting, Phyllis. Yes, I agree. In the comments from last week’s blog, Nancy was saying how she was trying to incorporate a number of things into her daily routine. I told her she was biting off more than she can chew. It is important to honor the process and energy that is required to make one change a reality.

  6. Danielle Reply

    Sigh, I think my motivators are some form of self sabotage. Organization always seems such a mammoth task that I always put off. Great piece and wonderful to have such an honest story.

    • Janine Post authorReply

      Danielle, Organization is not a task, it is a practice that must authentically reflect who you are and how you think. It is very likely that there are some simple adjustments you can make that will motivate you BECAUSE the process helps you connect to what you love about yourself. And if your motivators are self saboteurs, then they are gremlins wearing motivator masks! Let’s talk.

  7. Sarada Chaudhuri Reply

    Thanks so much Janine! That’s such a great story, and a brilliant reminder of telling ourselves what our big ‘why’ is.

    I’ve been resuming a fitness regime, since the beginning of Jan, but stacked the odds in my favour by actually beginning just before Christmas, and realising that I wasn’t doing this to get into a bikini by summer (!) but because I wanted more energy and better sleep. And that it was as important as the medication I have to take from my doctor! Thanks again!

    • Janine Post authorReply

      What a great “why”, Sarada! What are you go to do to get your motivators to kick in when you really don’t want to keep to the regime?

  8. Linda Samuels Reply

    What great questions you asked to help your client, and the rest of us get to the heart of what drives us. My biggest motivator is clarity. When I know what I’m moving towards and why, my energy to continue only increases. When the whats and whys become cloudy, my motivation decreases. Commitment is another big motivator for me.

    • Janine Post authorReply

      For some of my clients, clarifying the goal and a path for attaining it gives them hope, but they are still plagued by doubt and insecurities. I love that clarity and commitment provide you with motivation! Thanks so much for commenting, Linda.

  9. Nancy Tierney Reply

    Nice! The why behind the what. So important when making any kind of change that requires breaking a habit or altering the way we think about ourselves.

    Do you also find that people can have a clear and powerful motivation, but they get stuck with the “how”? How to make it happen? I know that’s true for a lot of my clients.

    • Janine Post authorReply

      Absolutely, Nancy. What a great observation! The question of how to make it happen can be a HUGE wind-sucker and keep clients inert. Sometimes, the how comes from the resources you marshall around yourself when you start your journey of change. I am writing about that right now and it is the very next post! Stay tuned! Thanks for such a great comment, Nancy!

  10. Alison Swerdloff Reply

    Janine, I love how you made this all about what her motivators are. You are right that everyone has different reasons for getting organized, but in the end, everyone wants the same things! I will bookmark it and use it for some of my clients! Thanks for posting it!

  11. Lorraine Reply

    I always have difficulty with change, it is so uncomfortable, but once I do it, the uncomfortableness is gone. Great post! PS
    use goals as target. I use words like I will, the ego is funny if you use want it hears want and leaves you in want. Kind of like have and will, puts a positive spin on it. Blessings

  12. Alyssa Reply

    Instead of a resolution, I have 1 word I’m focusing on: DAUNTLESS! 2013 is the year of pushing through fear and resistance and stepping in to what I know I’m called to do. I love your idea of being specific. Too often, lack of specificity is why resolutions fail.

    • Janine Post authorReply

      Alyssa, it’s great that you’ve chosen a motto or one word to represent your year. I wish you the absolute best as you breakthrough your fear and resistance and step into your calling. Thanks for joining the discussion!

  13. Laura Reply

    Awesome reminders for anytime…one of resolution or one of ‘resolving’. I don’t do resolutions but found myself making a resolve for a personal goal of mine a few weeks later. Today, this is a great reminder to me!!!

  14. Emily Zillig Reply

    Awesome! It’s amazing how much focusing on the goal and the WHY make all the difference. I sometimes find myself focusing on beating myself up for not doing, and a quick shift to “What am I creating here?” changes my energy, my motivation, and the DOING as well! The key for me is being aware of what I’m saying to myself. Thanks, Janine!

    • Janine Post authorReply

      That’s a great observation, Emily. Reframing it certainly is a great way to put wind back in your sails!

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