How long did it take to break your New Year’s resolution this year? You haven’t yet? You are one of the rare few. Why so rare? Because many resolutions are made as a cultural custom—it’s what we “do” every year at this time. And for the majority, the custom of breaking a resolution is as strong a part of the tradition as making it. In their hearts, most people expect it to happen. As a hypnotherapist, the post-New Year’s crowds are already breaking down my doors. But must we behave the same way every new year? No. How to prevent it or repair it? Read on. Mistakes We Make The reasons we often fail at keeping our resolution—though we’re experts at making them!—are the following. Notice which of these common reasons are yours, and then choose to make a positive change in the resolutions you select, how you construct them, and how you share them. Here’s the scoop on what can go wrong and how to avoid it. Mistake 1: The Resolution Is Too Complicated or Severe “I’ll never eat another candy bar again, never-ever!” is too severe (unless you’ve been strongly advised by your doctor). Here’s what too-complicated sounds like: “I’ll work out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, unless Monday is a holiday, or I walk to work three times or more that week, or I go out drinking and can’t get up early enough.” The logic may be sound, but rather than including all those ifs, ands, and buts in creating the resolution, go with the flow as life happens. Figure you’ll work out three times a week. If you wake up late one morning, get up early another day and work out then instead. It’s common sense, but many people miss it. Overall learning: if the resolution isn’t working, re-think it. Mistake 2: It’s All About What You Won’t Do—Nothing About What You Will Do People need a good mixture of do’s and don’ts, will’s and won’ts to get the job done right. Instead of just a list of what you won’t eat so as to lose weight, also include your new preferred menu. For some of us the preferred items alone will do the job. But knowing only what you’re cutting out, and nothing about what you’re including in, makes Jane a sad, confused girl. So if you want to lose that extra weight, say something: “I will emphasize fruit, vegetables and sugar-free drinks as snacks, and move away from sugary, fatty snacks.” If you’re like many of my clients, thinking only of the first half (what you CHOOSE to eat) is sufficient. That way you need not concentrate on what you’re “losing out on.” Know yourself and experiment. Side note: Just declaring what you will do isn’t sufficient; you’ll also need to make that trip down the fruit and veggie aisle. Overall learning: Turn a ‘won’t do’ resolution into something that will give you direction—a ‘will do’ resolution! Mistake 3: You’re Denying An Important Need or Desire If you overeat, over-drink, or have sex with people you don’t really want to be having sex with, there’s probably something you’re missing. A need that is going unfulfilled. Have an honest talk with yourself, a smart and loyal friend, or a counselor, therapist or hypnotist, and find that thing, and get it fulfilled in some healthy way. You may need time to work through it, but that’s okay; the rewards will be great. Ignore it and that undesirable behavior will keep returning, sometimes more fiercely. Overall learning: Figure out what’s been left unfulfilled and work on getting it satisfied or restructured positively. Mistake 4: You Expect to Fail An old friend of mine used to make a resolution every new year to lose 15 pounds and keep them off. Sometimes she lost them, and sometimes she didn’t, but the new body never lasted. Now that I’ve been a hypnotist for around 10 years, the reason is obvious. She always said something like this: “I’m going to lose that 15 pounds this year, I hope” or “I’m going to try to lose those 15 pounds” or ”I’m going to take off the 15 pounds—at least for a while.” Notice how she built failure into every one of those resolutions. Frankly, resolutions are the closest thing to hypnotic suggestions. Build in failure and you’ve practically hypnotized yourself to fail. Overall learning: Ask yourself what kind of support, help, or learning you need to succeed; then proceed to get them. Mistake 5: You’re Not Getting Support – Or You’re Getting Negative Support Whether your quest this year is to lose weight, run a triathalon, get a great new job, or find a life partner, tell only people who will support you. If the friend or relative is unsupportive, envious, or spiteful regarding your endeavor, don’t use him or her as a sounding board. In fact, don’t even tell him/her about your goal or decision until it’s a done deal. It’s really okay to share only with supporters or cheerleaders and avoid the naysayers who don’t have helpful, valid objections. If you have close relatives you “should” tell but are afraid they’ll disrupt your momentum, disclose only when you’re so in-the-flow that you’re bulletproof. Overall learning: Your best defense is to watch and listen, and then do what you need to do to protect your goal. For more on this, read Part 2, “Notes From A Hypnotist: Creating A New Year That’s Way Better Than Last Year.” ©2008 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.