Every Monday morning millions of people make resolutions in an attempt to positively change their lives. I’m going to start my diet. I’m going to get rid of my debt. I’m finally going to end this destructive relationship. I’m going to start exercising every day. The list is endless. Yet, by day’s end over half of us have already broken our resolutions, and within two months, the remaining 50% don’t fare much better. What went wrong?
Some people blame their lack of success on outside events. They claim that the kids, their job, their spouse, and their prior commitments took up so much time that attaining the dream became impossible. Others blame their own goal-setting strategies, believing their resolutions were too lofty for anyone to achieve. The fact is that when it comes to positively changing your life, resolutions are not enough. The key is to look inside and determine not what you want to achieve in the next few months, but rather, who you want to be for the rest of your life.
What vs. Who
When people say they want to achieve something, they naturally look to outside factors for support, advice, and direction. For example, they can only quit smoking if their stress level is down; they can only exercise each morning if they don’t need to be driven to school; they can only earn more money if the economy changes. The mentality is: “As soon as…then…” However, when people decide to positively change their perception of who they see themselves to be and choose ownership instead of excuses, then they are personally accountable for their future and don’t need outside factors to guide them. They can say no to that dessert because instead of trying to achieve weight loss or being the ones always on a diet, they are committed to becoming healthier individuals.
To change your perspective of yourself and reach your personal goals, you can follow a simple three-step process that enables you to turn your future vision of yourself into current reality. By doing so, you create your future today and assure that the coming months and years will be different and grander if you choose.
1. Create your vision.
If you could design the ideal life for yourself, what would it look like? How would you feel? What would you tell yourself to ensure your vision would become real for you? Would you be ten pounds thinner? Would you have at least an hour’s worth of free time in your daily schedule so you could focus on yourself? Would you be able to make smart financial choices so you could increase your net worth? Whatever it is you create for yourself, that’s the vision you need to focus on to bring your future to you now.
When you neglect to create your vision, you essentially allow outside factors to determine your life’s course. Creating a vision is about taking control of your future and accepting responsibility for the choices you need to make. It’s a proactive approach to life that says you refuse to let external circumstances get in the way of your dreams. By keeping your vision firmly in mind, you give yourself the strength and conviction to transform your beliefs so you can finally become who you really want to be.
As you create this initial vision, take the time to examine other areas of your life and then determine the focus for each aspect. For example, you could have a vision of your physical health, family relationships, job, community contribution, and anything else you can think of. The more focused you are on how each aspect of your life should be, the more clarity you have on your future direction.
2. Create your identity with your vision.
What three qualities or values do you want to own or possess to make your vision real? Some examples are “happy,” “peaceful,” “unstoppable,” “strong,” or “committed.” Because your external world is a reflection of your internal world, what you create in your life will only be as strong as who you are inside.
Identity is about taking ownership of your vision and for who you want to become. Without identity come excuses – all those reasons why you can’t make your vision real. I can’t enjoy life fully because I’m so stressed from my job. I can’t have the quality of life I want because I don’t have enough time. I can’t lose weight because I don’t have the willpower to resist dessert. I can’t get out of this bad relationship because I’m afraid of being alone.” All these excuses occur because of a lack of an empowering identity. A person’s identity is a powerful force within the human psyche. Why not choose one that serves you?
When you choose the qualities you want to possess, you prohibit outside factors from slowing you down. You choose to feel at peace so you can enjoy life. You choose to be strong and healthy so you can lose weight. You choose to be happy so you can release a draining relationship. Essentially, your job, family, friends, and even current events can no longer dictate who you are or who you become. Creating your identity frees you from others’ control and enables you to finally act upon the goals you have set for yourself. It’s a matter of realizing that there is no becoming; there is just the declaration of all that you already are right now.
3. Commit to your vision.
Nothing happens without action. The same is true for making your vision a reality. With your vision and your identity clear, you now must take the steps that will positively impact your life and transform you into the person you have chosen to be.
When you commit to your vision you take daily steps that will bring you to your goal. Daily reflection upon your vision is necessary for achievement. Some people choose to find photos that remind them of their vision, and they reflect on the pictures daily; others prefer to read or recite affirmations that help them connect to precisely what they want in life. For example, if your goal is to finally shed those extra pounds, you could find photos of the swimsuit you’d like to wear this summer or you could remind yourself each day that “I am a healthy individual who is at my ideal weight.” When the mind can envision the new you, the body will be more eager to do what’s necessary to achieve the desired result. The mind does not know the difference between real or imagined. Why not create an empowering reality?
Finally, give yourself checkpoints so you can assess your transformation process. Regularly ask yourself questions such as, “What is different in my life now compared to one month ago?” “What steps am I currently taking to help me become the person I want to be?” and “What can I do to bring my vision closer?” If possible, have an accountability buddy who asks these questions for you, who helps point out ways that you may be sabotaging yourself, and who reveals ways that are serving you to bring your future to you today.
Your Future Awaits
Simply stating goals is not enough to change your life. You must also decide what your ideal future looks like, what qualities you need to attain it, and finally what daily steps will bring you to your desired outcome. Without such a plan, you’ll have nothing concrete to run towards and you’ll be content to stay where you are.
By following this simple three-step process you can ditch the Monday morning resolutions and create the life of your dreams today. Then, instead of hitting the two-month mark and wondering, “What happened to my goals?” you can further challenge yourself and ask, “What’s next for my life?”