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Sticking to Our New Year Resolutions

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
We’re barely into the New Year, yet how many of us have already abandoned our New Year’s resolutions?

Dear Friend,

I have worked with many people over the years, and have struggled myself, to begin and sustain an exercise program or follow through on other healthy goals. We know that it’s good for us and we yearn to experience the sense of accomplishment we know we’ll feel — if we could only stick to it.

Year after year, we hear great ideas—for exercise programs, making more money, for better relationships and better sex. And year after year, the same great ideas are offered again. Why? Because most of us never followed through on them in the first place.

If the desire for change is there and these ideas are good ones, why would we not follow through?

Because until you confront the hardwiring of your brain—e.g., exercise is “too boring,” “too daunting,” “I never have the time,” “I’ll deal with it tomorrow!”—you won’t be able to rewire your brain with more empowering and motivational thoughts. You’re fighting an uphill battle against thoughts that reject the very behavior you want to adopt.

But whatever your negative hard-wiring, the process below will help you rewire your brain to support your New Year’s goals:

Let’s use the example of “It’s too boring to exercise.” “Boredom” is not a truth but simply an attitude that has been hardwired into the brain. It is the emotional and physical state of zero-energy. In boredom, you tend to focus on what isn’t, not on what could be.

Four easy steps for rewiring the brain that take just seconds to do:

1) Acknowledge your brain is hardwired with the state of boredom.

2) Experience the physiology of boredom in your body—e.g., low energy, low motivation, body has no energy and doesn’t want to lift a finger to do anything.

3) Restore your energy by breathing into the sensation of boredom. Breathing is the quickest way to build energy.

4) Focus your attention on the areas of your body with no energy—brain, torso, legs—and as you inhale and exhale imagine your breath going in and out of these areas. You will immediately feel more energy.

Visualize your brain cells laying down a new pathway for new energized and motivated thinking. Cleanse the old negative thought (e.g., “Exercise bores me to tears!”) from the brain in the moment it arises by acknowledging it and breathing it out of your physiology. Visualize this old thought being cleansed from your brain as a new thought (e.g., “As soon as I move, my body will feel nurtured and energized.”) creates a new neuropathway.

Great! So you were able to get off the couch for on exercise session. But how will you sustain your new exercise program?

Acknowledge it will be difficult and there will be relapses: you may slip back into boredom, you may begin to doubt that you can sustain it, you may go back to your thinking that “the process will take forever so why try.” But who cares if you have to start over again? Several “first” days of your exercise program still equal several days of exercise!

Remember the Bill Murray movie, What About Bob? Baby-steps are the answer. It may take a year to program this new behavior into your brain so that it becomes your default behavior. So don’t get discouraged!

Keep a clear image of “what will be” – how great you will feel and look; how much energy and strength you’ll have and what new, exciting activities you’ll be able to do.

Eat & Drink: you need to eat to have the energy to exercise and drink tons of water to hydrate your body if your exercise program is vigorous. When you are thirsty your body is already 75% dehydrated!

Keep yourself encouraged by doing fun things for yourself. Whenever you do something for someone else, do one thing for yourself.

To feel a sense of accomplishment remind yourself: “I am doing it and I am on the path to do more of it!”

Many of us need help to accomplish our goals. There is nothing wrong and everything right with:
Reaching out to a buddy to whine and complain, and receive support.

Hiring a personal trainer (or mentor for whatever you are trying to accomplish): My mom (80 years old in 2008) only works out because she loves laughing about how much she “hates” working out with her personal trainer!

Connecting with your higher power and reaching out for help to sustain you in those times of darkness.

I leave you with a few thoughts from America’s first psychologist:

"Of all the creatures of earth, only human beings can change their patterns. Man alone is the architect of his destiny…Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” –William James

Wishing you focus, fitness and flexibility in body and mind!

Adrianne Ahern, Ph.D.
Performance Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and author of Snap Out Of It Now!
P.S. If you find value in this blog and wish to share it with others, please do so!

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