Your Resolutions vs. Your Expectations

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Ah yes … it’s that time of year … the New Year … that many of us attempt to resolve to better our lives or at least the quality of our lives. Essentially, a resolution is a promise that we make to ourselves to DO or NOT DO something that will create a desired effect. Most people tend to make these resolutions on New Year’s Eve or at least within the first week of the New Year. Just prior to sitting down to write this editorial piece, I watched a segment on a TV show where the professional researchers indicated that ninety-five percent of the resolutions made within the first week of the new year fail. The clear message was that you shouldn’t hold to a preordained date but to make and implement your resolutions when you’re ready! Their recommendation was that people should wait as long after New Year’s Day as possible to make their resolutions and, in fact, they recommended that waiting until after January has passed is the best idea. I found that to be an interesting and rather important observation.

However, in this article, I’d like to cover a few other points that might add to the mix. In my role as a psychotherapist, and now as a consultant, I found that peoples’ expectations were one of the most significant aspects to consider in the success or failure of their endeavors. Certainly, as a stress management expert, a life management coach as well as a consultant to athletes in their development of focus and staying in their zone, expectations is an outstanding element that needs to be considered in people realizing their goals and aspirations. People have a tendency to either under or over estimate their capabilities which often lead to false conclusions and/or experiences that tend to become self-defeating.

New Year’s resolutions certainly fall into this category. Apart from not being ready to commit to any change in our behavioral pattern, if we expect  that the desired change will occur simply because we will it may be too drastic given the severity of the expectation. There seems to be something magical about New Year’s that creates an illusion that because the resolution is being made at the beginning of the year, it will automatically be effective. Unless a drastic situation like a hurricane or flood which doesn’t leave much time for adjustment takes place, change best occurs as a process. By this I mean that if in our need to change something (such as a resolution) means going from one extreme to another, the chances of that change becoming a permanent one in our lives are very slim.

Here are some points that might be worthy of your attention before you make your resolutions:

  • First of all, extremes never work! However, people looking for change will usually go from one extreme to another in their attempts at solving a problem or issue either because they are anxious to accomplish their goal/s or because they have waited too long to begin the process of change.
  • In working with thousands of people over the years, I have found that if change could be approached in increments, the tendency toward success is more assured, although not guaranteed. Incremental change allows each step to take its full course before going on to the next. Also, the completion of each step provides feelings of success which creates further incentive to go on.
  • Your mind and body know what you can reasonably DO and NOT DO. Although change is a challenge to ourselves, if those expectations exceed our natural ability to accomplish something, the outcome will probably be less than desirable.
  • Usually, when attempting change, depriving yourself of something is much less effective than doing something positive for yourself. Deprivation tends to create a sense of feeling cheated which, in turn, leads to giving up on the plan. For instance, instead of giving up certain foods, determine that you’re going to eat healthy.

Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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