It is that time of year again where people make New Year's Resolutions. It is a fairly well-known fact that well over 80% of all people fail to keep their resolutions withint the first month of the New Year. As I talk about this a bit more, let me reveal a therapist's trick. It is somewhat well-known that therapists really don't give life-changing advice or suggestions. However, it is still common for therapists to give advice in certain ways and in certain circumstances. This strategic and targeted advice-giving is can be done by the therapist knowing that the patient is unlikely to take the advice or suggestion. In other words, the advice or suggestion brings up resistance that can be worked with by the therapist in the session.
So, when 80% of people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions what is more than likely happening is that their resistance to something is coming-up and preventing them from reaching the goal that they wanted. As such, the real value in making a New Year's Resolution is not necessarily keeping it, but rather in examining why the resolution has been broken. If you are in the 8 of 10 people who will inevitably break their resolution, you can still salvage something from it by asking yourself some of these questions that are designed to illuminate and highlight the resistance you may be facing:
1) Why did you make the resolution in the first place? What is it about your life that you really want to change?
2) What behaviours, attitudes and feelings came-up in you that prevented you from reaching your goal? How many times in your life have these blocks come-up for you before and prevented you from getting what you wanted?
3) Is it possible that your goal was too lofty to begin with? Again, how often do you set goals that are too unattainable for yourself? What is the end-effect of setting goals that are too high?
4) What would it take for you to stay with your resolution longer? What kind of emotional sacrifice or even pain would it cause you? Is it possible to make resolutions around those psychic needs as opposed to just external, goal-oriented resolutions?
When you look at these questions, they are designed to highlight your resistance, and get you to focus on changing it, as opposed to giving you strategies to keep your resolution in the first place. Most therapists believe addressing the resistance to the resolution is really where change happens. In other words, coming up with tactics to maintain the resolution is somewhat easy - addressing why we don't want to keep the resolution is where real growth occurs, and maybe that should be your resolution for 2013!
Happy New Year !