We’ve all been there. And then we go there again. And sometimes we like to circle back around and go there another time or two. When I say “there” I’m talking about all of the times we have set goals, promised to change, or improve some aspect of our lives, but then…we didn’t do it. Oops! I did it again…
Have you been wanting to make changes in your own life? Have you tried setting a personal goal and then fell short of accomplishing it? Have you sworn to be better next time? How many times have you said “I’ll start on Monday?” and the next Monday, and then the next Monday…? Well it’s Monday people, so let’s start today!
We so easily get caught in this cycle of doing the same things over and over again. Then we feel disappointed when the outcome stays the same. This is insane, literally! The definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome. And we do this all the time. We find ourselves indulging in our guilty pleasures, then feeling guilty for doing so because we had promised ourselves we would stop, change, or get better. Oops! I did it again. At some point, we have to break this cycle and try something new if we really want to see some change.
Take a moment and think about a goal you have for yourself. Do you have aspirations for career advancement? Are you hoping to improve your romantic relationship? Do you want to shed a few pounds or make dietary changes? Whatever your goal is, think about what your end game is and the means to that end. Chances are you already have a pretty good idea of how to accomplish this goal.
So, why is it so difficult to follow through on our goals and plans? Why do we continue to make the same decisions (or mistakes) when it only hurts or hinders us? Quite simply: because it’s easier. It is easier to sleep an extra hour than get up and go for an early morning jog. It’s easier to drive thru McDonald’s than it is to plan, cook, and clean up a healthy meal. It’s easier to break up instead of sacrificing or compromising with your partner. It’s easier to stay complacent in your role at work than figure out how to climb the corporate ladder. It’s easier to give your kid an iPad when they melt down instead of fighting another bedtime battle. While some things in life are better when it’s easy (like EasyMac!), typically the most satisfying and rewarding aspects of our lives don’t always come so easy.
Okay, so what do you do now? I wish I could offer you a magical, crystal ball that holds all of the answers you are searching for. Since I can’t do that, I’ll offer something even better, more realistic, and accessible: your own brain!
Honestly, most of us know exactly what we need to do in order to make effective changes in our lives. How do you get a raise at work? Exceed your boss’s expectations. How can you get your partner to open up more about their true feelings and intentions? Open up yourself. Ask what your partner needs to feel comfortable opening up. How can you curb your sweet tooth cravings? Limit your access to sweets. Allow yourself 2-3 treats a week instead of everyday.
More often than not we know exactly what we need to be doing to help ourselves reach our goals. The problem is we sometimes lack the self-control, motivation, or energy to get up and do it. This is where I can help! The main premise behind my preferred approach to counseling, solutions-focused therapy, is simple: do more of what is working and do less of what is not. I love this approach because it is clear-cut, precise, and most importantly–it works!
Chances are if you are trying to get back in shape, you know what works. Cardio, dietary changes, scheduled time for exercise. Do more of that! You also know what doesn’t work. Overeating, not joining a gym, or attempting diets that are impossible to maintain. Do less of that!
If your relationship is struggling, do less of the petty ignoring, name calling, and retaliation or revenge seeking. Do more open conversations, sharing of your own vulnerabilities, and resolving conflicts with compromise.
If your child continuously begs to stay up later, do more routine setting, rewards, and consistent consequences. Do less of the giving in, power struggles, and raising your voice.
You know what works. Do more of it! You definitely know what doesn’t work. Do less of that!
Do yourself a favor and revisit those goals you’ve been setting. Rephrase them in more tangible and concrete ways. This will hold you more accountable and hopefully provide you with the reward and motivation you need to keep going and accomplish those meaningful, life-altering goals.
You have most of the answers you’re looking for in order to improve your life. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure it all out. However, because I do consider myself a magical genie (aka a professional counselor) I can help you explore, discover, and identify what those answers are for you and help you turn those goals, dreams, and aspirations into reality!