“Instead of trying to change your entire life in January, the simpler strategy is to adopt a 12-month plan where you’re making constant improvements.” – S J Scott
New Year is often a time for reflection, or as John Lennon put it… “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.” It can be a time to take stock of achievements and to build on the progress made towards long-term goals, but let’s face it, it’s more often than not a time to reflect on what hasn’t been achieved and what didn’t get done, leading to all those New Year Resolutions, right?
Dwelling on past “failures” can lead to a downward spiral of negative thinking that can keep you trapped in, at best, a defeatist mental state, or at worst, a victim mentality. For this reason, New Year should be a time to look forward, not backwards, and a time to use the experiences of last year – good and bad – as springboards to moving on in the year ahead.
Defeatist or Victim?
Let’s say you’re dwelling on the fact that you haven’t lost the weight you said you wanted to. What thoughts are in your mind? Perhaps you’re thinking negatively about all the times you gave in to temptation and giving yourself a hard time over being so weak-willed (defeatist), or perhaps you’re thinking of all the reasons for your failure to achieve your goal, all of which involve the actions of other people or events beyond your control (victim).
Well, here’s the thing: the way you think influences the way you feel, and the way you feel influences the way you act. Thinking negatively generates negative emotions that will tend to lead to negative actions or no action at all – both of which will result in negative outcomes. You see, you’re stuck in a negative downward spiral.
Okay, so you didn’t lose the weight, but the key to achieving your goal (if it’s truly what you want to achieve) is to accept that there’s really no such thing as failure, there’s only feedback, and then move on armed with the knowledge gained through the experience.
Why didn’t you lose the weight? Is your goal a SMART goal, or have you set yourself an unrealistic and therefore unobtainable target? What’s your motivation; are you committed to achieving it, and what stepping-stone goals have you put in place to help you maintain that motivation? These are all questions that need to be considered and answered to switch your negative downward spiral into a positive, upward spiral of success, but perhaps the most important question of all is what changes are you prepared to make to do things differently this time?
Think about it: if you choose to remain in a defeatist or victim frame of mind, you’re choosing to stay where you are. Is that really what you want? To move on, choose to believe in yourself and your ability to change. Make it your focus to change the way you think, and in so doing, you set the ball rolling to achieve whatever you put your mind to.
Don MacNaughton is a High-Performance Coach.
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