With the emergence of spring and the Easter break, we naturally start thinking of growth, new beginnings, and rebirth. The dullness of winter is gone, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, gardens are in bloom and we are filled again with happiness and hope for the future.
But what happened to our New Year Resolutions and pledges to ‘start anew’ by improving our health, getting a new job, managing our finances better or a focus on leading a happy life? Dreams, which many put on hold for the last few months of the year because we knew that January 1st would give us the opportunity to start anew.
Sadly, for most of us, they are long distant memories with many of us repeating the same habits and behaviours within the first week of January. Sometimes this ‘failure’ will put us back even further than we were before because we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will never be fit, slim or deal with our demons or family issues.
We all know at least one person that regularly announces on social media ‘tomorrow is the day I will sort my life out’. They will start the diet, sort out their finances or go to the gym so they can finally be happy and emerge into the person they want to be. While I am sure that at the time of posting these people are highly motivated and fully intend to make those changes, why is it that within days, they post photos of unhealthy meals, nights out drinking or their latest designer purchase? Why do so many people fail at resolutions where others find success? Studies show that over 80% of people will give up on their New Year’s Resolution within the first few weeks. Yes, a massive 80%.
Is it because people are not motivated, weak-willed or just really don’t want to make the changes? You’ll be pleased to know that none of these are the case.
Many of us give up because we think our problem is too big, that it must be a long drawn out or costly process or sometimes because we feel we are not good enough and don’t deserve it. We can’t imagine or visualise what the result will give us and the perceived pain of the struggle or dealing with our negative self-belief outweighs any gain, so in many cases, we don’t even start.
Unlike many other therapies, NLP is solution, rather than problem focused. Even deep rooted issues can be resolved in a few short weeks, you do not need months or years of therapy to let go of a painful past or start planning your future.
Developed from modern psychology, NLP is one of the most invaluable and empowering methods to bring about rapid, positive change and transformation for a wide variety of behavioural, psychological and emotional issues. The extensive NLP techniques can be used to help us achieve our goals, build belief and confidence, eradicate fears, phobias and negative thought patterns and beliefs and in addition, can effectively tackle past negative experiences and trauma.
So, if we are not lacking in motivation or weak-willed, what is stopping us getting to where we want to be and how do we move from being in the 80% bracket into the 20% success bracket? The 5 main barriers to success are:
- Lack of focus brought about by trying to make too many changes all in one go
- Unreal expectations on how quickly or how much we can change in a short period
- Focusing on the problem rather than the positive result
- Lack of support – doing it alone
Think of these as paper walls, rather than ones made of brick; they are obstacles not blocks, with only a little effort required to breaking through them.
Lack of focus
When an architect designs a house or new building he has a vision of what the overall result look like, inside and out, from the top to the bottom. He also knows for the building to remain stable and safe, the ground must first be cleared, the footings dug and the utilities (gas, electric, water) connected. The frame will be added and the floors and staircase built, with the roof, interior design and gardens being finished last. There is an overall goal but it is broken down into manageable stages to ensure success. Each stage is completed before moving onto the next one. There are often delays due to weather or unforeseen circumstances but he doesn’t give up on the project and abandon it at the first hurdle, these are just delays or challenges.
Focus on one area at a time and build from there. Trying to achieve too much at once will seem like an impossible task and dilute your efforts.
Just like the architect and builders know the order needed for success in completing a new building, they also don’t attempt to build an entire mansion in a weekend with a spoon and fork.
Be honest with yourself and think about what it is you would like to achieve and what is a safe, realistic timescale. If you currently lead a sedentary lifestyle but would like to improve your fitness and run a marathon you are going to need to take several factors into account to ensure you do that safely:
What time, resources or money do you need to help you achieve this? While walking and running are free, fit for purpose running shoes are not?
When and how often will you train? What time can you and will you dedicate to this? Will you need to get up earlier or arrange any childcare? What events or social activities will you need to cancel to train?
How will you measure your success? What milestones will you put in place? Will you download an app to help you see your improvement?
Are there any adjustments you need to make to your diet so your body is fuelled correctly? Or will you require any supplements?
To achieve a goal, you need to plan for it. And to plan for it, you need to have a specific goal in mind.
Wanting to be able to run 5k continuously in 6 weeks is a specific, realistic goal, saying you’re going to start running isn’t. It is easier to break down when you know exactly what it is you want to achieve.
Focusing on the problem rather than the positive result
Research shows that people have far more success when they focus on a positive result rather than a problem.
What is it you want to achieve? ‘giving up’ smoking’ has a very different meaning to ‘being smoke-free’. The first implies that you will be losing out in some way, the second that you will benefit. How can you turn your goal into a positive? Think about what you will see, hear, think and feel when you cross that line, get into that dress or receive that job offer?
Visualising the result and the journey to get there can be a powerful catalyst to moving you from the 80% of people who fail to the 20% of people who succeed.
This may surprise you but self-sabotage is a myth. Self-sabotage is really the excuse you tell yourself, it’s a kind of wrongly wired inner dialogue where you tell yourself ‘you can’t’ or that you are ‘not worthy’ or ‘it’s too hard’. Yes, running 26.2 miles is hard, doing chair exercises or putting on a pair of trainers and going for a walk isn’t.
If your goals are clear, realistic, achievable and well planned then you cannot fail. Yes, I said you cannot fail.
There will be celebrations and parties which may mean your healthy eating goes off track, you might get ill and not feel like going for a run, or you may have a few glasses of wine or a cigarette. Remember that a bad day, week or meal does not mean failure, it means you are human. Accept it for what it is, move on and continue moving forward.
Lack of support
Who will support you in your goal? And who will stand in your way?
For many, publicly declaring our intentions on social media makes us feel accountable and that we are not ‘Doing it Alone’. While there are many reasons we give up, not having support can be a big fracture. Sadly, sometimes those around us want to keep us where we are, they don’t want us to ‘rock the boat’, it helps them to stay comfortable.
If support is something you are lacking; then where else can you get this? Could you join a gym, running or swimming club? Perhaps you could join an on-line forum or social media group where you can celebrate in each other’s successes and express any concerns or receive guidance. You don’t have to do it alone.
Whether your goal is to improve health and fitness, develop a new career or tackle issues from your past, having a coach or therapist is a great way to explore any blockages holding you back and to develop a clear plan to move forward.
Before you start, do a simple ecology check by asking yourself 3 quick questions:
- Is this for me or someone else?
If you pledge to lose weight to please a partner or because you think you ‘should’, then you are unlikely to achieve success or maintain weight loss in the long term.
- Why are am I doing it?
Taking just a little time and really thinking about what you want to gain can be the difference, that makes the difference and which will increase your chances of success.
- What are the wider consequences of my action?
Will it impact your wider life or affect anyone else? Is it safe or could it cause harm to yourself or others? Often clients are worried that relationships may be destroyed by seeking help for family issues, this really doesn’t have to be the case and considering any wider impact will only benefit.
Finally, remember change can take time but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Having a clear vision and plan and considering any potential obstacles and challenges will set you on the path to success.
Don’t wait until you have reached your goal to be proud of yourself to celebrate your successes, be proud of yourself every step of the way because you will be in that 20%.
Sue Walsh is a qualified NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach registered with the ANLP. She is a talented coach and therapist who can delve deep to free blockages and behaviours holding you back, freeing you to move forward and achieve your goals.
If you would like her help in planning out the steps to your desired goal, check Sue’s details here.
We guarantee you that with her expert coaching and years of experience, you will be able to establish which of the above challenges you might be facing and most importantly feel empowered and motivated to overcome them. Remember, you don’t have to DO IT ALONE!
We, at Calmer Clinics, have the support you need :).