Friday, March 4, 2016

How Are Those New Years’ Resolutions Working for You?

On December 31st we find most of the resolutions we made twelve months earlier aren’t even remembered, much less started or accomplished!  What’s causes the recurring phenomenon?   

Working with my coaching clients I’ve found one of the principal culprits that holds them back:  They are not ready to change!

Most resolutions involve changing a habit or behavior. If you aren’t ready for change, it won’t happen.  There’s a fabulous change model called Prochaska’s Stages of Change that has five stages.  If you are in the first or second stage of change, its likely you will not live up to your resolutions.

If you are in the first stage of change, called pre-contemplation, you don’t view the habit or situation you want to break as a real problem.  That’s where I find many of my clients.  This is when resolutions are written that don’t reflect what the client thinks is a problem, but what someone does.  Take the example of Luci.  Her spouse thinks she should exercise more, but Luci doesn’t believe her weight is a problem.  But to appease her spouse Luci makes a resolution to exercise more.  And does she?  Probably not, because Luci doesn’t believe a real problem exists.

Contemplation is the second stage of change.  Here you know there is a problem, but you are sitting on the fence, weighing pros and cons.  You can stay in the contemplation stage for long periods of time, months or even years.  Moving out of this stage may require a deep evaluation of values or working with a mentor or role model to help support you to start planning for change.  If Luci were in this stage, she’d be looking at the pros and cons of more exercise, she might be talking to colleagues or friends about exercising more, or discussing the value of more exercise with her physician.

The third stage is preparation.  This is where you are really motivated to take action in the near future, probably within the next month.   In this stage you believe you can make a change.  If Luci were in this stage she would be making plans to join a health club, set up “walking dates” with a buddy, purchase exercise videos, etc.

When my coaching clients set resolutions and goals I listen closely to how they describe them.  Do I hear excitement around the goal?  Can they describe why they want to pursue the goal?  Can they say what steps they need to take to achieve the goal?  Can they tell me when they will start working on the first step? Asking these questions allows my clients to listen deeply to themselves and find the sweet spot where resolutions and goals are going to work for them, not against them.

How do you know if you have a resolution that works for you?  Are you excited about it? Can you describe why it is important to YOU? Can you list steps to achieve it? Do you have a start date and schedule?  If so, then you’ve probably got a winning resolution. 

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