Why do so many of use fail to achieve our New Year’s resolutions?
How are you getting on with yours? It’s estimated that less than 10% of us achieve our goals, are you one of the 10% or are you finding your motivation and commitment are dwindling fast? January 17th is ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’, the day where apparently, a large number of people abandon their resolutions and it got me thinking about why this happens and why we still engage in the practice; year after year…
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Alex, a psychotherapist in private practice so mostly, I work with people who are wanting to make long-term changes in their life. They may not know this at the time, but often what they do know, is they’ve tried to change in the past and it hasn’t stuck.
Here’s why I think our life goals don’t stick:
They’re too broad.
When we set a goal they’re often like an umbrella statement, something that encapsulates a big part of our life without detailing what it means to actually make it happen. Let’s take stereotypical New Year’s resolutions for example, ‘I want to lose weight’ or even more specific ‘I want to lose a stone’. What does this mean? How are you going to change your day? What do you need to overcome when it comes to willpower? How are you going to know you’re off and on track? Where’s your support coming from? When do you want to achieve the first milestone?
I could keep asking, I’m sure you get the gist.
They’re not easy enough to get off the ground.
When we’re making changes to our life, we need them to start easy and we need develop from there. Habits are conditioned/learned responses to situations and/or events and sometimes they can act as an emotional and psychological crutch for us. When I’m working with clients, I make sure they understand that we are not going to pull their crutch from them, we need to develop a new way of being so the crutch is needed less and less.
If habits are learned responses then we need to learn & understand our triggers so we’re better equipped at navigating them.
They don’t account for our script/our life stories.
Each and everyone of us has a life script or a life story that motivates our actions. Our script/story is an automatic understanding on how our world works, our place within it, others’ place within it and what happens. We develop this script when we’re young and it continues to be reinforced or updated as we develop and mature. Someone who experienced secure attachment, life opportunities, permission to grow and find themselves will have higher levels of entitlement in their story for example, than someone who experienced early trauma, who didn’t have a nurturing support system and who were told and shown they weren’t as important as other people in their life. And the thing is, these things can be really subtle, the experiences don’t have to be dramatic to stick but if our habits don’t include all this stuff - how will we overcome and re-write it?
In conversation with family, friends and new clients, I often answer questions such as ‘where does anxiety come from?’ and ‘how do you stop being stressed?’ My answer is never one size fits all, I don’t give them the answer they’re looking for because I don’t know their story and what they really want to know is ‘where does my anxiety come from?’ and ‘why do I struggle with stress’.
If you want to make changes, please consider your story, what you’ve been through and what your ‘normal’ is.
Here are some examples of how life script/stories can effect your ability to change single handed:
If you think you’re addicted to sugar, have you experienced trauma? Higher cortisol levels caused by trauma mean you will crave sugar.
If you’re struggling with panic and anxiety attacks, it may be you’ve always experienced anxious symptoms but never thought of them as these. Our bodies can only take so much before it starts to spill over in order to keep your functioning i.e. panic attacks are your body’s way of release.
Do you find you never complete your goals, courses or do something to sabotage your opportunities? It may be that part of your life script is about not succeeding, maybe you think that’s about you, that you’re not worthy or capable and maybe it’s a belief about the world; that nothing is what it seems, that everything special is always taken from you?
If you want big change and want to inquire about working with me, click here and let’s make a start.
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