Why It’s So Easy to Fail at Our Resolutions?

By Eldon Taylor in Intention on January 20th, 2009 / No Comments

The New Year is upon us and if you are like so many, you made some resolutions and already have relented or let go of some of your ambitions. Every year millions of people do just that. There is such hope in the approach of a new beginning and yet it is so easy to just let that hope slip into forgotten dreams of the past.

I have spoken with many people do not remember their New Year resolutions from years past. If you think about it for a moment, do you remember your resolutions from five years ago, from two years ago, indeed, from last year? Why is it we forget so quickly? First we resign ourselves to relenting and then we forget what we relented–is that instructional? I think so.

We are all familiar with “wishful thinking.” Yet, most make their resolutions in much the same way. We can imagine an internal dialog deciding on the New Year’s resolutions: In this next year I will stop getting angry! I will use my spare time in wiser ways. I will save money. I will get fit. And so forth. The problem should be obvious. Let’s think of it framed in the same context, an internal dialog but one that promises success with the resolutions: In this next year I will stop getting angry. How will you do this? Good question–what triggers my anger? I know when I get upset and it comes from frustration. So, how do we control the frustration and get to what’s behind it?

When you dialog a resolution in this manner, it becomes easy to see why most resolutions fail. That is, there is always an underlying cause and at least one, if not a set of emotional triggers that are incorporated in and around any and all of our so-called behaviors. What is more, some emotional “need,” at least a perceived need (belief), is satisfied as a result of our existing behavior. As such, we fail to make the change we desire until and unless we redefine the context in which our beliefs rest so we can effectively alter our “needs.”

I spend a good deal of time in Choices and Illusions on how we get these beliefs that fail to serve our highest best. I also discuss how the context behind our beliefs frames and specifically delimits our choices. Recently I had a conversation with a talk radio host and it occurred to me that one of Ellen Langer’s ideas might help everyone understand just how powerful this context stuff is.

I use this metaphor for many things but in particular for smokers and I do know something about that addiction having smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for over thirty years. So here is the metaphor, think about the saliva in your mouth. Move it around and taste it. It may surprise some, but it actually tastes good and we are glad we have it.

Now think of spitting some saliva into a clear glass and then imagine picking the glass up and drinking the spit. Something changed–didn’t it. When smokers realize that the context they hold cigarettes in must fundamentally shift from the saliva in their mouth to spit in the glass, they get it. All of us have a context to our beliefs and sometimes the context both betrays common sense and ourselves.

One of the powers people experience with our InnerTalk programs is a new internal dialog that leads to a shift in context and follows with the desired change. In my book, Choices and Illusions, you will find many other ways to alter old self-sabotaging beliefs and replace them with powerful new convictions that truly do empower you to realize your highest best.

About the author:
Eldon Taylor is author of the New York Times best seller, Choices and Illusions. For more information and a special, limited time offer, please click here.

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