By Suzen Fiskin
What is it about the dawning of a shiny new year that makes us hunger to be a better version of ourselves? Our compulsion for do-overs gave rise to that vexing tradition of New Year’s resolutions. These promises to ourselves feel so good when we jot them down and so crappy before February hits the calendar. Could there be a better way?
Maybe I can help. In working with clients to make life changes for a helluva long time, I’ve noticed that success leaves behind a trail of clues.
Here are 5 tips and tricks for tipping the scales in your favor for making lifestyle shifts that stick.
1. Focus on what you DO want, and keep going in that direction in ways large and small.
Zero in on what gets you to feel good about making that shift, and word it positively. Instead of feeling crumby looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “I don’t want to be a fat slob who’ll never get lucky again,” you might want to reframe it to something more like, “I know I’ll be happier, healthier, and a feel whole lot sexier when I’m thinner.”
Unlike resolutions of old with specific and time locked goals, the secret here is to make sure that you keep headed in the direction of what you want. Give yourself strokes for the baby steps you make towards your goal along the way. Didn’t eat that last few bites of cake? Good on you!
2. Limit your focus to one or two shifts.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re trying to stay on top of a laundry list of personal shortcomings. Painful, too. By concentrating on one or two things (max), you’ll get some success under your belt, and feel good about yourself and the progress you’re making. This will give you the oomph to keep on keeping on.
3. Rehearse your success every day in mental movies.
World-class athletes and other can-do people run mind movies of their future victories over and over until it feels like a done deal. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what you tell it is real. By visualizing your wins, you literally rewire your brain to get what you want. Let your imagination run wild! Feel how good you’ll feel, see what you’ll see, and hear what you’ll hear. Make the pictures closer, bigger and brighter; pump up the volume of the soundtrack; and let the pleasure of those positive emotions spread throughout your entire body . . . You deserve it!
4. Plan for some suffering and backsliding . . . oops!
Most people don’t include discomfort and screwing up as part of their plan. (I wonder why!)
The first time they feel withdrawals from nicotine and mooch a smoke from a co-worker, or scarf a cupcake in a single gulp, they feel like a failure and give up way too soon. Gift yourself with a couple of “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, shake it off and get back on track. Remember to tell yourself what a good job you’re doing when you do feel those hunger pains or can hardly move after working out. Good on you!
5. Find new ways to get the benefits that the old behavior gave you.
One big reason people fail at making changes is that they don’t have alternative ways to get the perks that they got the old way. For example, people who drink say that it makes them feel relaxed. What else can you do to get those same feelings besides booze? Meditation? A long walk? A hot bath? A lusty romp?
In working with clients to stop smoking, I encourage them to take non-cigarette breaks where they step outside and take long, deep breaths that they hold and release—it gives them many of the same sensations and sense of peace without the cost, stench or toxins. It works!
I hope these tips help you double down on your success. Happy New Year to you all!
Since 1992, Suzen Fiskin has been a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and life coach. She’s also the author of “Playboy Mansion Memoirs.” [email protected]