Every January I get excited about the fresh start of a new year. I’m excited to set goals, make changes and become a better me — but by February I’ve fallen back to my old habits again. What can I do this year to make my New Year’s resolutions stick?
When you consistently fail to reach a goal, there is probably a counter-intention in the way. A counter-intention is a strong desire to do something that is the opposite of — or counter to — your goal.
In the past, your counter-intention has been stronger than your resolution to make a change. The good news is, this year you can do it.
To overcome your hurdle, identify what your counter-intention is, then choose a more passionate positive intention to eliminate it.
Here are four examples:
1) You may have fear about the responsibilities and commitments accomplishing this goal brings with it. You want the goal but you may not want the other things more. Your desire to avoid these commitments and responsibilities is your counter-intention. For example: You may be afraid that if you lose weight, people will expect you to keep it off. They may expect you to diet and exercise forever. Avoiding long-term commitment can stop you from achieving what you want.
To beat this counter intention: Don’t look so far ahead. Take it one day at a time. Decide who you want to be today. Decide what actions you will take today. Trust that when you reach the future, your abilities will have expanded and you will be able to handle what comes. Don’t let a fear of the future stop you from being the person you want to be, right now.
2) You may have a strong aversion toward the tasks required to accomplish your goal. You may love the idea of being thinner but hate the idea of dieting and exercising. If you hate exercise and the foods available to you on a diet, your counter-intention is your strong desire to avoid those things. You may force yourself for a while, but when you’re motivated by “I have to” or “I need to,” there’s just no joy in the tasks and the motivation doesn’t last.
To beat this counter intention: Change the tasks and make them enjoyable. Find a form of exercise you “love to do” or “get to do,” something that is fun and brings you joy. There are many fun ways to exercise that don't feel like exercise. Try Zumba, playing basketball or ice skating. Then find some healthy foods that actually taste good (yes, there actually are some). It is easy to stay motivated when you're doing something you want to do.
3) You may be getting a benefit from staying where you are, so there is a counter-intention that doesn’t want to change. For example, you may feel there are benefits to being overweight; you may use your weight as an excuse to get you out of things you don’t want to do. If you lose the weight you may lose the convenient excuse. Or you may love chocolate cake more than you love the idea of being thin (that’s the problem for me).
To beat this counter-intention: Decide who you really want to be and consciously choose to let go of the benefit.Decide that accomplishing this goal has greater benefits than excuses (and cake). Consciously make the decision to let the old benefits go. You may want to write them down and burn the paper as a symbol of your commitment. Focus on the benefits of success.
4) You may have an all-or-nothing attitude. This means that if you mess up once, you will throw in the towel and wait for next year. Your counter-intention is a perfectionist mindset. It says, “If I can’t do it perfectly I might as well give up.”
To beat this counter-intention: Change your standard of success. A mistake doesn’t mean you won’t make it. Talk to anyone who has quit smoking and they will tell you they tried to quit numerous times before they finally did it. If you fall off the wagon for a week, don’t let the mistake stop you. You don’t have to do it perfectly to benefit from the effort. Taking two steps forward and one step back will still win the race in the end.
My goal this year with LIFEadvice is to give you principle-based, time-tested solutions, which can change your life for the better. If you will read this column each week, I will teach you principles and give you the tools to solve many of life’s problems. Please send in your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker. Watch LIFEadvice with Coach Kim on KSL TV every Monday between 6-6:30am
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.