Truth be told I'm not a fan of resolutions because it relies on the magic of you being someone different on January 1st and that is dependent on willpower. Change is very doable when you have the right tools, but willpower isn't the most successful tool for this process.
Have you ever wondered why willpower doesn’t work? Have you heard that nasty voice in your head saying, “what’s wrong with you that you can’t “just do it?” And to make matters worse, you now feel horrible about yourself because you don’t have any “willpower” and you feel like a failure? Yep, I get it because I’ve been there. We've probably all been there.
The concept of willpower focuses your attention on what you don’t want and tends to keep you fixated on that unwanted thing even more. The more you think about not eating that pie (or having that drink, smoking that cigarette, or whatever your issue is), the more your attention goes to that “issue.”
To change an ingrained habit, the one thing that will truly create lasting change is building new neural pathways in your brain. The process is based on a scientific concept called “neuroplasticity,” which states that your brain is always changing and you can create new pathways and establish new habits. And, to be clear ('cuz I can hear your brain coming up with excuses) it's never too late and you're not too old to change. Moving on!
Your old behavior patterns are ingrained and comfortable. You’ve spent weeks, months, or years building up habits that create pathways in your brain that get very well worn with repeated use, like a familiar, well-traveled super-highway. It’s your “go-to” road to get from here to there.
But, what happens when you're ready to learn a new way and travel down a new road but you don't know how to change? You've tried the age-old tradition of resolutions and gritting your teeth with willpower and you just can't seem to make it stick.
I have some good news for you. You simply haven't had the right tools. There are processes you can incorporate that will help build new pathways in your brain and will enable you to change or incorporate a new habit. It takes some time and repetition, but it works and it will stick with you way past January!
I have condensed my process into six simple steps.
“Six Steps to Shift”
So, back to the superhighway analogy…
Put the car in drive and make a conscious decision that you are NOT going to take the old road today (old habit). Today you are going to begin traveling a new road, however unused and bumpy it is right now. Be patient and go easy with yourself. In time, with repeated use, this bumpy road will get easier to use. That old habit will begin to deteriorate and you just won’t want to go that way anymore.
And that, my friends, is how we build new neural pathways in our brains! It takes intention and repeated action to start wearing in new neural pathways. After a while those new choices are easy, they are your new superhighway.
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Tessa Dowell, Holistic Health Coach
I am passionate about helping women re-connect with their inner wisdom and choose their best life. I offer personalized coaching programs to support healthy food and lifestyle choices plus mindset practices that restore daily energy and joy.