We are in the season of fresh starts, new beginnings, resolutions and intentions. The commitments we make to ourselves at the start of a new year vary greatly from person-to-person, but they all have a common root – the desire to make our lives the best that we can. Before any goals are set or plans are made, we first feel that desire to grow and it drives us in the steps that follow. What influences that desire in us can make all the difference.
As much as we think we know what we want for ourselves, there are always external influences at play. So when we set an intention or a goal, we need to ask ourselves – where did this desire come from? For example – do you want to lose weight because you want to feel better and be healthy? Or do you want to lose weight because you don’t feel that you “look the way society thinks that you should”? If you are embarking on any journey to reach a goal, the subliminal message we send ourselves can have a huge impact on success.
Without realizing it, we can inhibit our progress with focus on the negative. “I hate the way I look.” “Why can’t I get the hang of this?” I’m such a mess.” “I’m not ________ enough to do this.” Change is hard on everyone. Even when we start out excited about the change, going through the process of modifying our habits in order to affect change can often feel discouraging, because it isn’t what we are used to.
Mel Robbins’ infamous first Ted Talk introduces us to the idea of the “emergency break”. I absolutely love Mel and her straight forward, no-bullsh*t advice to drive us forward. When you start to make changes, you push yourself out of auto-pilot, and your immediate reaction is to “pull the emergency break” because it’s uncomfortable, uncertain, even scary.
In other words, our existing habits create resistance to new ones, and we must overcome that in order to reach success. This is why we so often find ourselves abandoning new behaviors just a few weeks in. A great book on habits is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I highly recommend this book before embarking on any journey of change. It is an absolute game-changer for your mindset and the way you work towards goals.
Knowing how to change habits and achieve goals is only half of the battle. Those subliminal messages are the other half. So – what messages are you sending to yourself? Are you being true to yourself, or are you examining yourself through the eyes of others. Are the things you want for yourself influenced by your own feelings and desires, or are they influenced by people close to you, your community, social media, or societal norms? Are you being kind to yourself with your self-talk, or are you being abusive? If someone else said the things to you that you’re saying to yourself, would you feel encouraged, or would you be angry with them?
I recommend taking some time alone with yourself, to get to know who you are, what you enjoy, what drives you, and ultimately, what you really want. When you feel a gut intuition about something, pay attention to that – it means something. Is there something you keep coming back to again and again but talk yourself out of? If it keeps reappearing for you, that means something too. What occupies your free time? What draws your attention? Pay attention to those things; examine them and break them down to see if you can figure what it is about them that draws you in.
On the flip side of that, pay attention to your reactions to outside influences. Things you see on social media, criticisms by friends or family members, things going on in your community. Noticing your reactions to these things can teach you a lot as well. If you feel put-off, put down, or like you “should” change something about yourself to fit a certain standard or norm – those things are not for you. Don’t be afraid to be different – embrace it!
Each of us is unique and individual, and that should be celebrated. Happiness comes from not only knowing who we are, but honoring who we are. So be kind to yourself, go for what you want, and pay no mind to the criticisms and influences of others. Be true to you, and the right people and opportunities will present themselves to you. With that in mind…get out there with a new perspective, and conquer this year!