Welcome to 2015! The beginning of the New Year is full of possibilities and promise. Now is the opportunity to set yourself up for what you’d like to create in the New Year. If you’re like most of us, you’ve discovered that New Year’s resolutions aren’t especially effective. According to an article in Psychology Today, approximately 50% of the population makes resolutions. By mid-February, most of us have fallen off the wagon.
Why do resolutions fail? According to the article In Psychology Today from December 27, 2010, “Making resolutions work is essentially changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and “rewire” your brain. Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it,” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.”
Change can feel difficult and hopeless; yet it is the one constant in our world. Change is happening in each moment. The question is: are you embracing it consciously and using it as an instrument to grow?
Rather than resolutions, I invite you to embrace a new approach that is effective; setting intentions.
But before we get into the specifics of how to work with intentions, it’s important to get curious. It’s important to have questions at this stage. After all, intentions can only help if you consciously create them. Notice the word “conscious,” because this is an amazing opportunity. If you are not conscious of what you are doing, how is change possible?
How to become conscious? First, slow down. In fact, stop. Spend a few moments of your valuable morning entering your day consciously. This is done through a mindfulness practice using your breath. The state of your mind is directly related to the state of your breathing. Slow down your breath, and you can slow down your active, thinking mind. From this centered place, you can consciously access what matters to you, create intentions, and plant the seeds to carry them out.
Now you are ready to get clear on what you value. Are you spending your time consistently with what you value? When I ask this question of many leaders, I often hear a resounding “no.” This represents the first possibility for change. We often get out of alignment, and don’t realize it until too much time has passed; often there is damage to ourselves or to our relationships, and usually both.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What do you most want to see in 2015?
- What do you want more of?
- What do you want less of?
- What will this require of you?
- What will you need to start doing differently?
- What will you need to stop doing?
- How will you know that you’ve made the change?
If inspiring others is a value to you, get specific about your abilities. What do you naturally do well? Are you using that talent effectively? If not, what is one step you could take to do so?
Is there a care that you have that you have identified and not done anything about yet? The beginning of the year is a chance to get involved with something new; volunteer, serve on a board or a committee, mentor, tutor, or fund a new program or project for something that matters to you.
My own personal experience has been that I met new people, used my skills in new ways, and received more than I ever thought possible.
Here are the 5 steps to sustainable change:
- Employ mindfulness by becoming relaxed, calm and centered through a breathing practice.
- Access your top 3 intentions.
- Write them down.
- Commit to small, achievable steps that if taken will create new habits, celebrating the small successes along the way.
- Have an accountability partner.
According to research from the American Society of Training and Development, your chance of completing a goal goes from 10% if you hear an idea to 95% if you have a specific accountability appointment with the person to whom you have committed!
This may be the year when you create something big by focusing on the small. Being intentional, curious, mindful and present will make your 2015 remarkable.
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