It’s that time of year. The time that everyone starts talking about resolutions, either with excitement and motivation or with rebellion and disapproval. Regardless of your stance, let’s consider for a moment that you should just stop trying to fix yourself, it won’t work.
Now I know all the resolution naysayers are smugly high fiving themselves while the optimists are tempted to click to something with 10 steps to achieving your goals, but stick around for a minute because this may just change the way you think about resolutions.
More importantly, it may help you get the things in your life that you really want.
So what is the fundamental flaw in the system of resolution making? The flaw in trying to fix yourself?
The flaw is you’re not broken.
And as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Now rather than spend a ton of time trying to convince you of your worthiness or the fact that you are good enough, I want to lay out for you why thinking that you “need to be fixed” will effectively undermine all of your attempts at change. So even if you don’t buy into the whole worthiness thing, stay with me for a minute if you want this to be the year that you do the things you say you want to do every year: if you want to make new habits and have them stick.
The problem is, starting toward habit change by focusing on taking massive action (or even small steps) is like trying to put the roof on before you build the walls. It doesn’t work. Repetitive action doesn’t cause habit change, thoughts do. And the thought, I’m not good enough or I should be better, isn’t going to get you there.
And “I need to finally get my sh*t together” isn’t going to work any better (trust me, I’ve tried this one A LOT).
You will maybe take some actions, but those thoughts will hold you back, every time. It’s like trying to make a milkshake with rotten milk. It’s doable but no one wants that milkshake.
So if starting with taking action isn’t the answer, if setting an intention to do something isn’t going to work, then what do we do?
Why do you want to do this thing anyway? If it boils down to some version of “I’m not good enough the way I am now” then we need to start digging up some new, more fruitful thoughts. We need to plant the seed of doubt that maybe we are wrong about ourselves.
Maybe we are good enough right now,
we want some new things in our lives too.
Obviously, actions are a crucial part of habit change. But our thoughts help us not only pick the actions but drive the feelings that are going to keep us motivated, keep us going when things are not going quite as planned. Once we establish that “I need to be fixed” is a thought that needs replacing, we can go about changing it. I mean, think about it, when was the last time you felt good when someone told you you were doing something wrong, or worse yet, that you were wrong… And yet we do it to ourselves all the time.
Here are some thoughts you may want to try on instead.
I’m doing this just because it’s something I want (not because I should, not to be “better”).
I’m excited to become the person who actually achieves this (one of my personal favs).
A plan will make it easier (not, I need a plan to force myself to do this).
Small actions are totally enough to help me progress toward this thing that I want (not that I “need” or “have to do”)- Truth is you don’t need to or have to, you are surviving right now…. Just saying. Doing it because you want to is a much more positive place to come from.
Now admittedly, this may be tricky for some people. For many, the feelings of inadequacy have been around for a long time and aren’t going to go away without a fight.
Some ninja training may be required.
This is next level stuff so brace yourself.
The secret training weapon is a self-gratitude practice. Not only have the benefits of gratitude been preached across self-help platforms, they have been backed by science and neuropsychology. What I propose for this particular issue is to write down 3 things everyday that you are grateful for about yourself. With a pen. And paper.
This is not a challenge for the faint of heart. If you are scoffing at the idea, consider that an indication that maybe this is a little frightening to you. All the more reason to give it a try (channel that inner ninja).
3 good things.
Things you are grateful for.
Like any skill, this gets easier with practice. It’s the jump start for the mindset that will negate the need to be fixed and promote the self growth that you want, from a place of positivity instead of judgement. The action of celebrating yourself will reinforce thoughts that will empower you and lift you up when you fail. And face it, if we are trying to achieve new things, some failure is a guarantee, so let's stack the odds in our favor
It’s like we tell little kids, “if you go in with a bad attitude, you will definitely have a terrible time.” And yet we hide our bad attitude behind what sounds like a good thought, “I am finally going to fix the parts of myself that are no good.”
I am going to take all the good parts and see what I can make of them.
Because I WANT to.
Try it, I triple-dog-dare you. This is going to be the year you amaze yourself.