Behind each New Year’s resolution is a desire to change. We are experiencing some discomfort about the present situation and, prompted by the general NY mood we vow to do something about it. At this point in time the motivation to “get to the top of the mountain” is really high, there is some adrenaline kicking in and hope for the better future floating over our heads on a pink cloud. Let’s say that, despite some discomfort we proudly make it to the top of the Change Mountain. Achieve the desired weight, make it to the end of January without a drink or a cigarette.

The next challenge is how to maintain the desired result (unless we are happy to just tick the box and go back to the same-old). Because guess what? There is no adrenaline kicking in any more, and no welcoming committee or even a small badge. Instead there is a large plain full of people like us – going, “yeah I don’t smoke, why?” “No I never leave things unfinished why?” “Yes I do run every morning, doesn’t everybody?” And we may feel like all the hard work was for nothing, and we can’t be bothered.

For the change to be permanent and not hinging on external approval we have to find a good reason WHY we want to do it. And it has to be a better ‘why’ than: “I want to lose more weight than my mate Nick before our beach holidays”. Such reasons are good enough to kick us into a start, but not enough to keep going for a long enough time to make it a ‘new me’ (especially if good old Nick is back to normal, happily scoffing crisps with pork scratchings). At this point we need to dig deeper and ask ourselves - why do I want to keep going?

The answer has to be found in deeper values that our lives are about. Once we stop and think what they actually are we may connect the dots:

  • “I want to lose weight because my family value a lifestyle which requires me to be healthy and fit and without it I won’t be a part of it”, or
  • “I want to be a non-smoker because I am the only person my children have to look after them, and they are the most important feature in my life”, or even
  • “I want to stop drinking because I owe it to my body, which defeated cancer and I don’t want to waste it”

Sometimes it takes a while to figure out that connection, and sometimes we don’t find any. And this is a useful information as well because it makes us wonder “why am I stressing about something that deep down doesn’t really matter to me?” – And we happily join Nick in a session of carb indulgence, because his friendship is more important than a beach body. Either way it is a long term win.

Further reading

Meet the therapist: Anna Jezuita

Finding opportunity in unexpected change

Self-care for when things fall apart

Why achieving goals won't bring long-term happiness

If you really want to change, hypnotherapy can help