Why is it that this time every year we think about those things we want to change in our New Year’s resolutions? What is a resolution anyway? A resolution is usually something that we’re trying to do again because we didn’t quite have success the first time. In this case, we truly are looking for a re-solution. Perhaps a few steps will help examine our behavior with a new perspective.
Making even a simple change can seem insurmountable once the endeavor begins. We often find ourselves routinely slipping into our old habits; bringing us back to the behavior we want to change, and eventually asking ourselves why can’t we make the transition. Often our behavior is so automatic that we aren’t even aware of it until we experience the ramifications. But this year let’s try a new approach. Let’s take just one resolution and dig a little deeper than just resolving to do things differently this year.
For this process we’re going to use a journal. If you prefer to use one of the many preprinted journals available today, make sure that it is designed to track at least one single topic for at least one month. But you can make your own journal by following the steps below:
1. Start small. I suggest starting with the smallest resolution you have. The idea is to build upon success by using your smallest resolution to prove the method to yourself. Think of a title for your smallest resolution and write it on the top of a sheet of paper.
2. Ask yourself why is this change important? This always sounds easy, but sometimes is remarkably deceptive. Instead of just saying I want to lose weight ask yourself if it could be more than just being healthy or feeling better. If you want to return to school is it just so that you can get a higher degree? Or maybe it’s deeper than that. Maybe you want to learn more so that you can bring about a deeper impact in this world. Whatever the change, dig for the underlying ‘why’ until you are satisfied with your answer. On that same sheet of paper, write down your ‘why’.
3. In a new paragraph, write down a few thoughts about how making this change will affect your life and/or the lives of those you love. It’s important to write these down so that you will recognize the changes as they begin to occur. This is fuel for change.
4. Divide a new sheet of paper into 4 sections. Title the first section ‘How I will change today’, the second ‘What I noticed today’, the third ‘What can change’, and the fourth ‘Tomorrows Changes!’. In the first section, record your early morning intentions for focusing on your resolution. Think about what situations may entice you to veer off-course and back into old habits. The second section is used during the day when you become aware of your actions regarding your resolution. You should be sure that whether your actions are on or off-track, these are positive thoughts to write down. It means you are aware of your actions. This is where you can capture the recurring daily actions which trigger your subconscious habits. In the third section, record your thoughts about how to change the behaviors you noted in the previous section. In the final section, to be filed-in before going to sleep, record only positive thoughts about today’s successes and your anticipated accomplishments for tomorrow.
5. Repeat step 4 for at least 30 days, or until your resolution has been met. If you have trouble sticking to the plan, review the first page to refresh your motivations for making the change. You may want to place reminders to write in your journal around your home and office. A calendar application with auditory reminders is also a great tool to keep the process going.
Journaling is both simple and powerful because it slows us down to reflect on our actions. It can often uncover the underlying autonomous behaviors which take over our day. Let me know how your journaling goes, or any tricks you use to help you remember to review and record your thoughts and actions.
Thanks for reading,
And remember to take the next step…