The elephant in the New Year's Resolution Room

Dear Lizzie:

Hello and happy January 3!

Do you still feel as revved up and motivated as you did two days ago? If yes, awesome, if no, you are not alone. The pitfalls of setting NYE party resolutions are many.

We borrow a resolution from someone else that sounds pretty good - oh hey I'd kind of maybe also like to lose weight, declutter, get my finances in order, too, yet we lack the true intrinsic motivation to get 'er done.

The pat answers about our resolutions were easy to give at the cocktail party, but that doesn’t mean that they are especially meaningful to us.  

Change isn't a walk in the park. It takes commitment, perseverance and consistency. You need new neural pathways in your brain to replace rutted out old ways of doing things.

Our brains like to be as efficient as possible, which makes the old way easier. The new way takes time and effort before it becomes ingrained as a new way of life. So motivation for the long-term is key.

But motivation has to be your own, not someone else’s.

So in an effort to override the "old way" of resolution setting, let’s start with your WHY…

Why do you want to make the changes you want to make in 2020 and beyond? 

You've already written out your best of 2019 and outlined what you want more of in 2020, so now you need to help your emotional brain understand why it should resist the temptation of the easy route and stay with you for the long haul.

In short, your elephant needs to get with the program

Elephant? HUH?

Well, basically have two different minds running our lives. We have our emotional mind and we have our wise mind. In positive psychology, we use the metaphor of an elephant and a rider. The unwieldy elephant is your emotional brain and the rider is your wise mind. 

At this early stage of making changes, your rider is probably a bit cocky and confident, thinking it can easily direct this elephant for 12 whole months, let's just sign up for the gym membership and get this show on the road, amiright???  

But your elephant wants to take the well worn predictable path and keep you safe and comfortable. And the elephant can easily overpower your wise little rider with its sheer mass.

The rider needs to be a leader (not a dictator): strategic and focused, yet also encouraging  - or else your elephant will just run off and trample all of your next decade dreams.

So before you can make a change, you need a good why...

Having a wowing why is important, because the why is how you'll keep your eye on the prize despite the elephant-sized obstacles.

Let's say, for example, your why for losing weight is to just look good in a bikini, yet your days of lounging poolside are limited to about 3 a year, you probably aren't going to be all that motivated to do the work necessary to keep the resolution.

With a weak why, your first overwhelming day back to work, after the holidays, will send you straight into the nearest pint of guilty pleasure at the end of the day because who cares how you look in a bathing suit for 3 days a year?

An inspiring WHY

I watched an amazing story on the news about a woman who went from 450 lbs to 170 lbs in two years to save her own life. That's a very powerful why. She said that in the process, not only did she save her own life, but she GAVE herself a life.

At her highest weight, her body was big, but her life was small.

She couldn't travel to other countries, let alone even just walk a flight of stairs in her house. At her current weight, she's now able to ride roller coasters, explore the world and is having the time of her life. Her WHY to lose weight was not to star in a swimsuit calendar. Her why was way more powerful than that.

Give your resolutions a chiropractic adjustment

Spend the next 10 minutes writing out your why to the resolutions you've been mulling over for the past few days.

If your why for each one is pretty flimsy, then do a bit of soul searching and decide if these are resolutions are in alignment for what you truly WANT for yourself for the next decade. Adjust your list. Keep the ones with a great why, toss the others.

If your list is now non-existent, then start brainstorming some new wants and their corresponding whys.

Feeling stuck? Forgot how to dream?

Oh wow. I have been there. I remember, just 6 years ago, sitting with my husband and our life insurance agent trying to set up a policy for our kids and map out our future.

He unexpectedly asked about our retirement goals and what dreams we had for the future. I remember my eyes burning a bit and couldn't help the tears rolling down my cheeks.

Dreams? Are you effing kidding me? I had stopped dreaming years ago. I was merely surviving. I had just sold a business of 14 years, barely made it through a very long recession, narrowly escaped a lawsuit, took care of my husband through 6 surgeries (umm we are now up to 7, I think), all while raising young kids and hemorrhaging money. I basically felt like I had had my ass handed to me and my only life's ambition was to take a nap.

I was spent. Literally and figuratively. And how could I even hear my dreams over my incessant teeth grinding from stress-induced TMJ?

I'd accrued quite a few frequent flyer miles to hell and back. I had no clue how to dream anymore, but thanks for pointing it out Mr. Life Insurance Agent.

Fast forward to my highlight reel 3 years after that meeting ...

I saw Hamilton in NYC. We snorkeled with whale sharks the size of grey hound buses (twice!), I wrote skits and sang parodies of Meghan Traynor songs in front of hundreds of people at our Cabaret performances in my town. I rented an art studio. I hosted a haiku art show starring with my vintage typewriter, I paraglided with my husband and kids 3000 feet above the mountains for my husband's 45th birthday. I studied positive psychology for 9 months with friends in Dubai, Ireland, Australia, Norway, The Philippines, and South Africa. I participated in a singing flash mob of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah in the produce section of the grocery store. I took piano lessons and bought a ukelele. I taught 17 kids how to take creative photographs. I met amazing women in Los Angeles during a writing/theatre/styling workshop. I remodeled my house and got the most beautiful new bathtub ... that was my list for 2017. My 2018 & 2019 include more daring dreams, more big adventures

Dreams? Yeah! I not only remembered how to dream them up, but also had the tenacity to make them happen.

And my why for each and every one was very aligned with what I want for my life. (Why yes, I do have a strong why for singing Meghan Traynor, Billy Idol and Bon Jovi parodies in public).

If you've forgotten how to dream—> try this first …

Go back and re-read your highlight reel of 2019 and see what the theme is. What lights you up the most. If 2019 just really sucked the big one (I've been there), then go through your mental filing system and pull out the highlights from the past decade to remind yourself of what you want more of.

Get in a positive state of mind to do this...
I recommend doing this while playing your most favorite upbeat song. Have a dance party, first. Go for a run. Look at the stars. Watch a sunset or a sunrise. Dwell in possibility for a bit and get yourself in a positive state of mind. In positive psychology, this is called being in the broaden and build state and it’s a much easier place from which to get inspired.

Positivity begets more positivity, so amp yourself up to spark some new ideas. 

100 Things To Do Before I Die

Write out your 100 things I want to do before I die list. This worksheet comes from positive psychologist, Caroline Adams Miller, and doing the tedious work of getting all the way to 100 takes you from the practical and pragmatic to the wild and crazy wants in your life.... and those usually have some pretty amazing intrinsic why’s. I love her prompts and being on a podcast with her was a highlight of my 2019.

Remember that your resolutions don't need a resume.

Give yourself some freedom. You can keep your practical resolutions, as long as they have powerful why's, but they don't all have to look good on paper or make perfect linear sense for your career goals.

If you want to learn to skateboard around the block or around the world, become fluent in Swahili and save money to visit the Pope's cheese cave in Italy, then write them out and give their corresponding whys.

Give yourself permission to dream big these next few days, it's the whole point of having right brain resolutions. 

Here's to bold dreams and big whys!

Lizzie Larock
Larock Star Creative
Creator of Gratitude Gravy and The Life Feast

 PS The Life Feast And The Life Feast part deux both open for registration soooooon. Not yet, but very very soon. 

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