Matthew - We become what we think about.This post – our first “How To’s and Tips” in 2016 – is appropriately about New Year’s Resolutions. It was inspired by a recent conversation with a dear friend. After reflecting about the year that was coming to an end, he said I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I’m going to “try” to lose some weight!

I looked in his eyes and said, “If you want to be successful you need to loose that word ‘try’! It’s what people say to excuse – in advance – yet another projected failure related to a familiar problem.” My friend is very bright, honest and responsible, so recognizing the implication of my comment we shared a good laugh together.

Can you remember times when you have said you were going to “try” to do something – anything? Ask yourself what you meant by that word. We don’t “try” to do anything that we actually succeed at. We “do it”!

Have you made any resolutions for 2016 that are about something you want? This “How To’s and Tips” may help you succeed.

First, as illustrated by the conversation with my friend, pay close attention to the meaning of the words you attach to your resolutions. The words we attach to our thinking, feelings and intentions have much power over what we will actually do! This is never more important than when we are talking about changes we intend to make in ourselves!!

Do the things you tell yourself or others actually constitute a promise you keep?
They should, or consider this: “If you always do, what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten!” Said differently, “Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result is the definition of ‘crazy’!

If you have made a new year’s resolution and want this one to be successful, ask yourself, “What do I really want – and – will I do whatever it takes to make it happen?”

Here are a couple of common new year’s resolutions and the essential changes you must make to succeed!

1. “I will try to lose weight!” This is the most common New Year’s resolution. To succeed, you must make permanent changes in your eating habits. Of course, regular exercise helps. It’s also necessary that you change the way you think about food, recognizing the emotional connection you have with what you eat and drink. For many, food becomes their drug of choice, consumed to quell emotional pain. To achieve permanent weight loss, return food to its actual purpose – healthy nutrition, needed to live. Your food choices may continue to include food that is delicious. But social connections with food and drink, as well as the portions you consume will surely need to be adjusted with daily attention to calories, carbohydrates, sugar and fat intake. This is nothing short of a lifestyle change. And if the weight loss is to be permanent, the lifestyle change will need to be a permanent commitment! If it isn’t, you are likely to yo-yo up and down. You will need to identify all the triggers — boredom, loneliness etc. – that send you to the refrigerator and learn how to make healthier and more responsible choices at such times. What you put in your mouth will need to become something you remain conscious about, eating for physical health and not emotional comfort or social ease.

Resolving true food addiction is the stuff of therapy, but hopefully the information here will get you thinking about weight loss in a more effective way.

2. “I will try to be a better husband/wife, parent, friend!” If you are sincere about this and not merely reacting to the expectation or demand of others, you can succeed in this, too. It will require you to look at who and how you are through the eyes and experiences of another! Of course it will need to be someone you respect and are able to believe has your best interests at heart. Your ego will get in the way of your recognizing those things that are not easy to see. If you refuse to listen because making yourself vulnerable is too scary, you are not alone. Nevertheless, you’ll need to learn how to listen in such moments, despite your fear. The fact is that what you want is on the other side of the experience of learning something about how you present yourself to the world that you may not have been aware of. That’s the first step in pursuing positive change and growth, if that’s what’s required to improve the relationship. If you listen respectfully to understand what the other person is experiencing and what they want in the relationship you share, chances are they’ll be more willing to do the same for you.

As you keep your resolutions this year, you’ll also gain a new and greater feeling of self-respect!

Happy New Year and Happy New You in 2016!!

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Jeff Levine

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