Can you believe it? It’s already October. Before we know it, it will be January again and we’ll all be setting new intentions for the year ahead. But what about the resolutions you made at the beginning of 2017? What have you done with those?
Are you exercising three days a week just like you promised yourself you would? Did you finally leave your unhappy workplace for a new job or career? Are you eating a nutritionally balanced diet? Have you created boundaries around work so that you can spend more time with your loved ones?
Whatever it is you wanted to do this year, if change has been slow or stop-start, that’s okay. As we’ve explored in a previous newsletter, taking your life to the next level takes time. So rather than give up entirely on your resolutions, let’s look at reasons those well-intentioned changes may have stalled. 2017 isn’t over yet; the next three months can still make all the difference.
How much do you want it?
If you just can’t find the motivation or energy to change, Pivot’s Director of Headspace Vanessa Auditore says it could be because you don’t have a strong enough desire.
“Making a change means we have to be uncomfortable for a period of time while we make an adjustment,” Vanessa says. “That’s why we need to be really sure of our desire to change. We need to know the consequence of changing, and not changing, because if the consequence of not changing isn’t strong enough, then the desire won’t be there to follow through.”
Say, for example, you want a new job but you’re still sitting at the same desk you’ve sat at for years. Even though you’re aware that you’re unhappy, it could be that your loyalty to the vision of the business is stronger than your desire to leave. “You also might try to stay comfortable. You might dig deep and draw on your strengths, believing you can control the impact that staying in an unhappy job is having on you,” Vanessa says. To get clear on your desire, Vanessa recommends exploring the pros and cons of changing. Ask yourself, what will happen if you stay exactly where you are right now and then in five years? What are the positives of starting a new career? What are the risks involved?
“It may be you want a different role, more opportunity, or make more money – whatever that happens to be, make sure that the desire is at the right volume so that it creates the necessary energy and motivation for change,” Vanessa says.
What does the change look like?
Sometimes we might desire change badly enough, but the reason we’re still stuck is because we don’t have a clear idea of what that change looks like.
“We can be aware there’s a problem and we’re in this cycle, or we’re in pain and we want to change, but we only know what we don’t want,” Vanessa says. “We don’t really know what the change could be or what it looks like. We don’t know what we’re moving towards, because we haven’t experienced it yet or we’ve only experienced it fleetingly.”
So if you want a new job, what would that dream job look like? What would your role entail? Where would your office be? What would your colleagues be like? If you want to be healthier, what would that feel like? What would it mean you could do? Maybe you want to run your first half marathon or compete in a corporate boxing match. Get clear on what it is you want.
Once you have a clear vision, you need to back it up with the knowledge and skills to follow through with action. “If somebody doesn’t know ‘the how’ of change, like what specific educational training, skills or behaviours are necessary to move forward, then it’s very difficult to harness that desire and step into action,” says Vanessa.
So sign up for a course, speak to someone who works at the company you want to work for, or find a career or life coach to help you. If you’ve decided to tackle your first half marathon, join a running group and download a training app to help you prepare for race day.
If you’ve done all this and you still find it difficult for your new behaviours to stick, make sure you’re being reinforced along the way. “We learn through reinforcement,” Vanessa says. “And that’s why change is difficult, because we’re wired for homeostasis whereas change takes energy. We can’t unlearn something, but what we can do is dull the neural pathways that get fired up when that situation is triggered and choose something else.”
And just remember that the whole process take time. A new year’s resolution isn’t just made and ticked off your list in January – it goes through the seasons.
“When we get stuck or don’t change, it’s about understanding where in this process we’re not clear, whether it be the awareness, desire, knowledge, ability or reinforcement stage,” Vanessa says. “Have patience to go through the cycles.”
If you need help making the most of the last stretch of 2017, let us know. As always, your pit crew is ready to support you.