New Path For a New Year

New Path For a New Year

We’re about to embark on a new year, which for many of us feels like a new opportunity to change patterns – to better ourselves. Lots of people do this through New Years resolutions. I’m sure you know the reputation of resolutions though – the joke is that the resolution might not even last a week (or even a day)! Have you made a resolution before that didn’t stick? 
If resolutions don’t tend to work, what’s a person who wants change to do? Well, let’s think about why resolutions tend to fail. Most of the time people decide that they will start or stop doing something (like eating well, going to the gym, quitting smoking), and then as soon as it doesn’t happen the way they hoped, they get discouraged and stop trying. Our expectation is often that we’ll just decide to switch and the change will be made – Presto! Unfortunately, if you think about how people learn, we don’t tend to go from zero understanding to complete understanding overnight. Nope, instead we get some things wrong along the way and that’s precisely how we learn! So, if our expectation is that we’ll suddenly start doing something different, well, we’re very likely to “break” that resolution.
However, if we try a different way of approaching change – expecting that it will be a journey with some false starts and dead ends along the way – but that we’re committed to the journey and committed to a goal of where we’re headed, that change in expectation tends to give us enough to keep going when we do run into something that doesn’t work! In fact, it can even help us see the “something that doesn’t work” as a really useful opportunity to troubleshoot and learn. Instead of “breaking” the resolution, we’ve had a SLIP – a Slight Lapse In Progress. To this we can say “Hooray, I’m a normal human who gets to learn” and (instead of beating ourselves up) stop to look at what didn’t work and what might have worked instead. Our goal is not broken, we’ve just learned one way that won’t work to get there! Apparently even Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, saw learning a way that won’t work as progress toward finding a way that does work!
And so, if you were considering making a New Years resolution, consider a New Years goal instead! Maybe stop and think about any past attempts you’ve made at a similar change so you know some of the pitfalls you’re likely to encounter. Then use that information to plan. Now you have an informed place to start that’s more likely to move you towards your goal. And if you’d like a partner in helping you make change, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group. Our other Orlando Mental Health Counselors and I would be excited to help you reach your goal, one step at a time!

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