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Keep Your New Year’s Resolution by Forming a New Identity

cat lion I received this email message from coach Devlyn Steele and thought is was so good, I felt the need to reprint parts of it here. I will start with some of his thoughts and then close with some of mine, which will help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions once and for all!

Devlyn: Year after year we go through the same routine of closing out one year and bringing in a New Year. As we do so, we wipe the slate clean and start the New Year with a fresh outlook. We say that this is the year that we are going to create certain changes in our life. We state these changes in what is commonly referred to as New Year resolutions. Psychologically, the idea of a new beginning gives us a sense of optimism and hope. That’s a great way to approach your life and the start of a New Year, with hope and belief that things can change.

Even though we go through this routine, more often than not we do not follow through with the actions and behaviors for a long enough period to produce the results we want.  Our initial enthusiasm gets worn down by the routines and patterns that we have established in our life. As the years progress we have in fact reinforced the notion that it’s okay not to follow through. We have grown accustomed to our behavior and don’t hold ourselves accountable. We, in fact, know that for the most part we will not follow through with our resolutions.

Further, we are so aware of our patterns of behavior that we might even stop making New Year resolutions out loud. We say to others, “oh, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.” However, it’s not that we don’t believe in resolutions, we just no longer believe in ourselves. Notwithstanding, that fact we still make resolutions. We just make them secretly under our breath to ourselves.

Why do we make resolutions when we don’t even believe in them? We make them because we all want change in our lives. Why do we make them secretly? We make them secretly to ourselves so we no longer have to be held accountable and feel badly when we don’t follow through.  In fact, the lack of follow through on resolutions changes a resolution to a wish. A “resolution” is a statement of action. Thus, to be resolved, means to be committed and dedicated to an act. That means you are resolved to take action. A wish is something you want granted to you without taking the action.

The only obstacle between you and creating change is yourself. It’s time for you to start believing in your power. It’s time to get resolved to act. It’s time for change, real change. Free yourself of what holds you back. Free yourself from a mindset of waiting, negative expectations and lack of follow through with consistent action. You no longer should live within the limitations of your resolutions and wishes. It’s time for you to revolt against your pattern of thinking that is holding you back. It’s time to forget about resolutions and declare 2010 the year we become free of our old patterns and set our lives in a direction we want. A year of real change!

Devlyn identifies the problem very well, but what is the underlying issue that causes us to go back to our old patterns?

It’s all about how we see ourselves, or in other words, our identity.

When people start strong on a New Year’s fitness resolution and especially when they make great progress, why do they sabotage everything and go back to their previous weight (or worse)? So many people do great in the first 80% or a new project, job, hobby, or fitness plan, but have trouble finishing the last 20%. This phenomenon usually occurs because the first 80% gets them to a point where they aren’t lining up with the identity they have formed in their brain, and then sabotage kicks in, to keep everything within the comfortable envelope of the identity they have formed.

The strongest force in the human psyche is need to stay consistent with our own definition of ourselves. Once you decide who you are, whether on a conscious or subconscious level, that’s who you will act out and become (or stay). You don’t even have a choice! If you think of yourself as overweight, or haven’t yet completely shifted that image from the past, you will have no choice but to act that person out, and you will stay that way. Even if you do get results without changing that identity, you will go back to that person – guaranteed.

Forming a new identity will help you break the old patterns and once that happens, willpower isn’t even necessary anymore. You will think like that new person and will act differently as your old patterns are a thing of the past and new patterns control you. Sounds great, huh? So how do you change your identity? Read on, and discover how you can do it in just 2 easy steps:

1.) Find a reason you want it. Just getting in shape so you “feel better” isn’t good enough. You should find enough pain to link to your present state to make you want to change. Then you should imagine enough pleasure to link to your “after” picture to motivate you to seek it out. Write down all the things you hate about your present state, and then write down your list of good feelings you will have when you achieve your “after” picture.

2.) Form a proclamation and use it at least 3 times a day. Become obsessed with this proclamation, Write it down places you will see it. Make posters, write it in dry erase markers on your window or mirror, place post it notes in strategic places, etc. Get weird about it, and when you say your proclamation, use emotion and get your full physiology involved.

Mine is, “Every day and in every way I’m getting stronger and wiser.” I say this at least 11 times, emphasizing a different word each time. Sometimes I restate it a few times emphasizing the word “stronger,” because that has many meanings to me (i.e. physical, endurance, power, will, spiritual, etc.).

Tony Robbins uses this one: “God’s wealth is circulating in my life. His wealth flows to me in avalanches of abundance. All my needs, desires and goals are met instantaneously. For, I am one with God, and God is everything.”

My proclamation might not work for you however, and Tony’s might not either. I found a cool article from this guy on that subject. You will have to find your own, and make sure it resonates within you and stirs emotion. Your subconscious brain won’t buy into it without the emotional link.

You can create emotion to some extent by simply involving your physiology, so even if you don’t feel your proclamation is “just right” yet, you can still make it work over time by saying it emphatically enough while looking in the mirror at yourself with utter intensity. You will feel silly at first, but it will work. If it doesn’t within about 2 weeks, tweak your words.

Even if you do feel silly, but it works, wouldn’t you rather feel silly and be successful, than feel comfortable and fail again? I sure would!