How many of us make New Year’s resolutions, only to have them fall by the wayside in just a few short weeks? Have you ever questioned why willpower doesn’t ever seem to be enough? Most of us know at least one person who actually succeeded by simply “deciding” that they were going to stop smoking or lose a bunch of weight. But why does success seem so elusive and rare? The answer is that willpower comes from the conscious part of your mind, but long-term success comes from the subconscious part of your mind.
Our subconscious mind is, in fact, our “autopilot”. Ever driven home from work, arrived in the driveway and recall almost nothing of the drive home? Your subconscious autopilot took over. It walks for us, remembers where the letters are when we type or text, it brushes our teeth, drives for us, parks for us, and many other hundreds of activities each and every day! It does all of this without any conscious effort at all! Most of the reinforcing routines that our subconscious mind does for us are positive and saves our focus for the times when we really need it, however, being on autopilot is exactly why our subconscious mind is the main culprit when we can’t seem to stop a bad/destructive habit. Our subconscious mind doesn’t want to hurt us with bad habits, it’s simply reinforcing our daily routines. So, willpower alone doesn’t work to keep you on track because the subconscious mind isn’t on board…yet.
How can we get our subconscious mind to work with us? One of the easiest ways is to use hypnosis to speak to the subconscious part of the mind and get rid of those particular bits of “automatic programming” that aren’t working for you. But there are other ways to work with your subconscious mind to get what you want.
First, understand why most resolutions fail. One reason is pain avoidance. Our body and mind are informed by our feelings. So the emotional state/feelings you connect to, inform your body and mind on a much more profound level than simply the words you tell yourself. For example, let’s say your resolution is to work out an hour a day every morning, but the feeling that you have about exercising is dread, So the words you tell yourself are, “I’m going to exercise and lose weight!” but your emotions surrounding it are “ugh, I’m going to have to get up early, lose an hour of sleep, and exercise for an hour every morning…yuck” your subconscious mind receives the message loud and clear, “let’s NOT do THAT!”. If you want to inform your mind and body for success, it’s important to be realistic, specific, and connect to the good feelings of becoming stronger, fitter, and slimmer.
Another reason resolutions fail is a lack of specificity. Having a resolution of “exercising more” or “losing weight” is so open-ended as to be completely useless. Make a plan for your success. Ask yourself the who, what, where, when, why and how questions that fill out the details. When am I exercising? What kind of exercise am I doing? How often am I exercising, and how many minutes am I dedicating? Where am I exercising? Who am I accountable to? Fill in those details, and visualize it happening. Visualize it being a typical part of your routine, and connect to the positive results.
- I’m exercising in the morning, right when I wake up, after I go to the bathroom.
- I am exercising for 45 minutes.
- I am walking on my treadmill or outside
- I am exercising every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
- I am exercising in my basement gym or outside
- I am accountable to my Fitbit, my spouse/work out buddy
Another way to reinforce your resolutions is by pairing the new habit with another well-established habit. So if you want to make sure you get your 10,000 steps in each day, you can pair 10 minutes of walking with something else you do multiple times a day. For example, each time you go to refill your water, you walk for 10 minutes.
Realign your associations. Too often we will label bad things “good”, and good things “bad”. So that juicy crisp apple gets the “yuck” treatment and the carb overload of garbage Doritos gets a “yum”. You need to inform your mind and body what foods are actually good by connecting to the “YUM” of nutritious foods, and connecting to the “yuck” when it comes to the empty garbage foods.
Discipline your mind! You need to show your mind who’s boss by training your brain. You can do this with regular meditation/hypnosis. Training your mind to achieve a calm peaceful state leads to a more calm and disciplined mind, with fewer “uncontrollable” extremes.
Set your goals. Clearly define what your goals are, and make sure they are measurable goals, so instead of walking when you get home from work, you set in your mind, walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes every day before dinner. Set a date for the completion of your goal. An anniversary, vacation, or a birthday are common dates to choose. Be realistic when you set goals. The best way to set yourself up for disappointment and failure is to have pie in the sky expectations. Do your research and set your goals well.
Lastly, forgive yourself. No one is 100% all the time. We all have our “off” days, and the best way to bounce back from them is being patient with ourselves and understanding that we are all human. Get back up and get back on track!
Kim Cogle is a certified clinical hypnotist and natural health professional and the owner of Herndon Hypnosis. She holds a degree in psychology and has had a lifelong fascination with the mind and natural remedies. She is a firm believer in a mind-body approach and utilizes this approach with her clients by offering mental and physical remedies and techniques to resolve issues quickly.
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