By the time we’re a week into January, the party’s over. The holiday binge expires, the hangover wears off and we’re left without excuses for gluttonous behavior. Consequently, we hop on the resolution bandwagon. January is traditionally considered to be the perfect time to create change. Unfortunately, real change rarely lasts.
It’s not that resolutions are doomed. In fact, making a resolution can be a powerful choice — as long as you do it right. There are a few common reasons why people have trouble making resolutions stick. For instance, I witness many people try to “do it all” at once, hoping to rapidly overhaul their lives by force of sheer determination. Making change isn’t about a single major shift — real change comes from adding up subtle shifts. In my new book, “May Cause Miracles,” I offer a guide to making subtle shifts for radical change. Want to truly commit to your resolution this year? Follow these four tips from the book to make your resolution stick.
1. You gotta want it: Willingness is the key to long-lasting change. Throughout my life I’ve made radical changes. I’ve been sober for seven years, I’ve been off dairy for more than a year and I’ve committed to a daily meditation practice for the past eight years. I was able to commit to these changes because I wanted them. But I did struggle to change patterns due to a lack of willingness. My primo example? Coffee. It’s taken me half a decade to overcome my addiction to caffeine. I just didn’t want to give it up. Then, about two weeks ago I heard that inner voice say, “It’s time to let it go.” Something clicked and willingness set in. Whether you hit some major bottom or you simply have an internal quantum shift, it is imperative to allow willingness to set in before you begin the journey toward change.
2. Keep it simple: Have you ever desperately wished you could make change happen overnight? We must surrender to the fact that real change happens by adding up subtle shifts. When we add up these moments, we create new behavior. It’s important to keep it simple and stay in the day. Let yourself off the hook! Instead of getting overwhelming by focusing on changing your whole life right now, simply begin paying attention to the moment-to-moment subtle shifts. Trust that the miracle lies within the subtleties.
3. Just show up!: The Kundalini yoga masters taught that 90 percent of the practice was just showing up to class or sitting down to practice yoga. If 90 percent of creating a new habit is just showing up, then we can take the pressure off. Stop waiting for something major to happen — just show up for change.
If you’re inspired to create permanent change, keep it simple and commit to creating subtle shifts of new behavior for the next 40 days. Already broke your resolution? Don’t beat yourself up. You can begin again today! Each day offers new opportunities to learn and grow.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat: The key element to making change stick is a 40-day practice of repeating new behavior. It’s this repetition that will allow you to truly make your desired change last. Indeed, neurobiological studies show that 40 days of repeating new behavior reprograms your brain by reversing neural pathways. It’s this reversal that changes your patterns and behaviors, and therefore your life.
— Gabrielle Bernstein is the author of “Spirit Junkie.” For more information visit Gabrielle’s website.
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author.