The Right Tool for the Job

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Replacing Resolutions With Resolve, Part 3

The first month of the New Year is rapidly coming to a close. If you imagine the year as a 365-page book, how’s the story going so far? Did your book start off with a bang? Or is it unfolding slowly and methodically? Are you writing your book or does it feel like it is being written for you? If you’ve made a resolution to write a new chapter for yourself this year, we’ve been discussing the seven steps required to make the change you seek a reality.

Last week’s article focused on identifying motivators that help you stay on course throughout your journey toward change by answering three probing questions. 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

This week, we’re looking at Step 3, making a list of your available resources. While making changes to long-standing habits and behavior, essentially the status quo, you must prepare yourself for your inevitable encounters with resistance. In his excellent book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield describes resistance as an invisible force, which “cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field…a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from” making the change we seek a reality. Pressfield goes on to remind us that, “Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.” When you are creating resolve, essentially preparing yourself for a battle against Resistance, it is best to bring backup.

How does one determine what kind of backup or resources are needed to combat Resistance? Fortunately, my highly esteemed colleague and author, Marilyn Paul, has already provided us with the right tool for this job. In her seminal book (which I regard as essential reading) It’s Hard To Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys, Marilyn explains that we need to list our resources for what she calls the “5 C’s of Support”– Celebration, Confrontation, Compassion, Choice-making and Clearing & Cleaning. She instructs us to make a list of specific individuals or entities that can be called upon to provide support and/or camaraderie in these five areas when we need encouragement to stay on track.

Marilyn’s exercise encourages us to imagine the circumstances that require calling upon our resources. For example, we can choose to celebrate each time we accomplish a percentage of our goal. Using the resolution “I will lose 15 pounds by June 30, 2013”, the list could include, “Each time I lose 5 pounds, I will celebrate with a massage.”

A client that I work with regularly encounters resistance whenever she feels unsure of a project’s first steps. The tool this client uses to break past resistance? She says, “I can call Janine, analyze the project with her and turn it over to her entirely if I don’t have the time to manage it myself. I trust her and her team completely. What a wonderful resource she is.”

Under what circumstances will you need to be confronted in order to stay on track? Who or what will provide this? When will you need compassion? Where will you seek it out? When will you need to make choices? Who or what will assist you? When will you need to clear or clean up? Who or what will help you? Ask yourself each of these questions and write down your answers so that you can refer back to them when you encounter resistance along your journey.

Do you have tried and true resources? I would love to know what you have in your toolkit. If you need some help identifying your resources, let me know. I want to help you keep your resolutions this year.