Keeping the Wind in Your Sails

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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.