Do an internet search for New Year’s Resolution memes and you’ll be met with a bevy of cynicism, lambasting people for failing to keep their personal commitments. The data doesn’t look much better. A Forbes survey found that only 25% of people show any ongoing commitment to their resolutions with 8% actually accomplishing their goals. Professional Counseling is the art and science of personal change. For many years, the field has studied what helps people accomplish change. Consider these seven critical precursors to personal change before making your resolutions official:
- A sense of necessity for change: Do you feel an urgency or believe that change will be instrumental to improving your life? Is it your idea to change or have you heard from others that you ought to change? Change is more likely to be accomplished when it comes from within.
- A willingness or Readiness to experience anxiety: This is nothing easy about change. We are organisms who are more likely to repeat their past behavior that spontaneously demonstrate new behavior. Taking risks and getting outside of our comfort zone is a must.
- Awareness of the problem: Not only is it important to understand your challenge as a problem, but also having awareness of the thoughts and emotions that surround it. As an example, many people have weight loss goals but only attempt to change their behavior regarding to diet and exercise, ignoring the role of their thoughts and emotions.
- Confronting the Problem: Confrontation is not the same as awareness. Confrontation, as put by the researcher, is “the steady and deliberate attending to and observation of anything intimidating, painful, or confusing… in spite of the tendency to avoid.. or otherwise escape it”. Confrontation is much more willful and brave than simply knowing how and why a problem exists.
- Effort or will towards change: Effort, time and energy are all invaluable agents in helping us grow. What we put our efforts towards tends to gain momentum and momentum is unlikely to be spontaneous
- Hope for Change: Simply stated, this is a realistic expectation that change is possible. It is necessary to approach the challenge and anxieties of change believing you have a shot at being successful. Even somewhat unfavorable odds, say 1 in 5, encapsulate an amount of defeat that people can tolerate and feel as though risk is worthwhile.
- Social support for change: We are social animals who accomplish few things alone. Consider the relationships that will help you maintain encouragement, accountability, and keep your progress in perspective
Read the full article by F. Hannah PhD below:
Hannah’s precursors for change make a compelling case. We can likely reference these against times in our lives when we were successful in meeting a goals verses unsuccessful times and see a corollary presence of the factors above. It seems that society does us no favors by making new years resolutions seem compulsory. If most of the precursory factors are absent a negative experience around goal setting seems probable and then likely discourage us from future goal setting. In short, an arbitrary date on the calendar is not a precursor to change. The right time for change is when you have the helpful elements in your life.
Sometimes, professional support is part of a person’s social support for change. If you are looking for professional collaboration we help people achieve their goals every day. Please reach out if you would like to learn more.