Sick of making (and breaking) the same resolutions year after year? Before beating yourself up with phrases like, “I’m just too lazy,” or “I just can’t do it,” consider changing your approach to change.
Choose meaningful goals.Make goals meaningful to you by tying them to your personal values. Think about who you are today, and who you want to be. How can you be a better parent, spouse, friend, or employee? It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else thinks is important, but once you identify the areas of your life or aspects of yourself that you want to improve, you can create more meaningful goals.
What’s holding you back? Sometimes, it’s not will power, stubbornness, or laziness that’s holding you back. You may be resistant to change because of an underlying (and often unknown) anxiety and a coinciding faulty belief. For example, Jake is a high-ranking executive who has the same goal this year that he had last year: to delegate more and have more personal time. But last year, he actually worked longer hours than ever before, didn’t seek input from his staff, and had a heavy hand in all projects. So, why couldn’t Jake change his behavior to achieve his goals?
Jake’s change roadblock is two-fold:
1. Underlying Anxiety: “If I give away the decision-making power, where does that leave me?”
2. Faulty Belief: “I have to do everything myself if I want it done right.”
Jake was resistant to change because his position as ‘decision-maker’ was closely tied to his sense of self, and he didn’t want to lose that feeling of control and self-worth. He liked feeling like the one who always knows best. While the year of long hours and zero delegating kept him from achieving his goal, it also kept his underlying anxieties at bay.
For Jake to reach his true goal, he had to be willing to consider that maybe he wasn’t in as much control as he thought he was. Maybe this underlying anxiety was influencing his thoughts and behaviors. To help make sense of things, Jake challenged his faulty belief by writing down counterarguments:
1. There are plenty of capable people in the world making smart decisions. I’m obviously not doing everything, and don’t have to do everything.
2. Just because something is not done exactly how I would do it, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
3. My staff is smart, competent and capable of doing things right.
Then, Jake put his counterarguments to the test. He delegated a major project, and booked a personal vacation. When things went smoothly (for the most part), Jake slowly became comfortable delegating more tasks, and started to enjoy a more fulfilling personal life.
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving life goals. Sometimes, professional counseling can help people identify and work through whatever it is that’s holding them back.
Laura McDermott is Media Relations Manager for ACI Specialty Benefits. ACI Specialty Benefits consistently ranks in the nation’s Top Ten EAPs, and is a leading global provider of Employee Assistance Programs, Student Assistance, Wellness, Concierge and Work/Life services