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January 14, 2020

Three Elements Required for Successful Resolutions

Our success is measured by our long-term commitments.

In western culture, we all want to be the best, look our best, and be rich. Granted there are outliers. Some people want to “live simply”. Some have a whole other priority-set. But, no matter where we fall on the spectrum of living our lives, all of us want to live them well. However, most of us fail at it time and time again. So, as tradition would have it, we make resolutions for the New Year and steak our hope on the transition between December and January. 

What is a resolution? 

Resolutions are often broken promises to ourselves in the making. We set a goal. We make a vision board. We tell a few people, “This is the year I really make it happen.” But, what most of us don’t realize is the overpowering force of homeostasis. 

Resolutions are often cognitive structures designed to shift behavior and therefore outcomes. However, they are feeble in the face of what I like to call, “All the sh*t that got wired into our psychology and became our personality due to childhood biological and environmental factors.” In short, our survival imperative is locked in place as a homeostatic way of being. For most of us that that imperative is centered around avoiding pain. 

This is why resolutions don’t work: 

Resolutions don’t work for a variety of reasons. The first being is that the person making the resolution does so inside of the confines of the environment or psychological ecosystem that produced the very outcome he or she wishes to change. We wake up and go to the same work. We watch the same shows. We rehearse and perform the same fear-based behaviors. So, there aren’t many things cuing our subconscious mind to instate a new pattern. 

A singular wish to lose ten pounds or more isn’t enough to hurtle our bodies into the workout program that would create real change. And, for the most part, that’s how people make their resolutions–by wishing some external factor will act as a magic-bullet. 

Another reason resolutions die in mid-January, is because like the holidays, they are based on illusion rather than facts. Christmas is actually about consumerism. It is a bull-sh*t holiday that took pagan rituals and adopted them to control people. In the same way a resolution is programming so that the fitness and relationship industries can have a good first quarter. Plus, most resolutions are concocted of elements of fear mixed with an insatiable need to belong. Failure is built into wanting to lose weight, make more money, have greater success, and win in 2020 (or whatever year these confounded dictates are dreamed up.) 

What is required for a resolution to be successful? 

So, if we know that fear-based resolutions result in failure, what then does it require to create the change we seek by setting a resolution? For the sake of this article, using my 20 years experience in personal development and mental health, I have distilled the successful qualities of a resolution into three primary factors: 

Adhere to the Stages of Change: 

The Transtheoretical Model (also called the Stages of Change Model), developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the late 1970s *(See link for citation) . Essentially, there are five phases we pass through to evolve our behaviors and our cognitive structures in order to create new outcomes. I’ll do my best to adapt the clinical language of these stages to “Average Joe dialect”. 

  • Nah, I’m f*ck’n fine. What’s the big deal. I’m going to die anyway. I’m good-enough and nothing really needs to change. Denial and avoidance of pain often mark this beginning stage of change. 
  • I don’t know what happened but she left me. I got fired. My clothes don’t fit. I have no sex-life and I’m lonely. I’m afraid of being rejected. I don’t know what to do next. This stage of change is often marked with acknowledging the denial of pain isn’t working and that core issues need to be addressed. This is also known as preparation. 
  • I’m eating healthy. I joined and go to the gym regularly. I am in a healthy partnership with loving sex. I started a good paying career. I’m doing things differently. People “get off their ass” at this stage by no longer talking about doing things differently and by actually taking action on those plans. 

The stages of change provide us with a map so that when we get thrown a curve ball or experience full-out trauma, we can go back to planning and preparing with intention before we take action so that our actions result in positive outcomes. 

The second and even more valuable factor in a successful resolution is to get help. 

This isn’t complicated. If you want to do better, you need to know better. And that means getting a mentor, a coach, a counselor, or a teacher that can show you what to do and when to do it. 

The third and final factor in generating a successful resolution is stamina. 

I founded my business in 2012. I re-branded it in 2015. I shifted its focus in 2018 from only helping with breakups to also incorporating witchcraft as a tool for mental health. And I’m just getting started. So, know that whatever you set out to achieve must become a life-style and will require several adaptations. You can’t eat the same and get skinny. You can’t spend the same and get rich. You can’t create from fear and experience love. 

Instead, we all must arrive at success together by realizing we can’t do it alone. 

So, no matter who you are or where you are on your journey, know that you can have a better life than the years prior if you are willing to endure the Stages of Change, pay for an education and work with a counselor, and if you know that a resolution is something that needs to be renewed through changed behavior for as long as it is moving you towards the realization of your dreams. 

Then one day, after doing the work, you will wake up and your bank account will be dynamic and overflowing, your body will be healthy, and your relationships will be rewarding. Your resolve will have resulted in a new reality. Will this year be your year? 


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