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Psychology Of Setting Resolutions You’ll Keep

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve set many resolutions. Yet I’ve never achieved a single one. At least not that I can recount. Yet, I keep going back to the same approach, hoping one of these years it will work.

I never blamed the act of setting resolutions for why they didn’t work, but I always blamed myself.

In the last few years, I re-evaluated the traditional resolution approach. I even begged you not to set resolutions, claiming it’s not the answer to what you are seeking.

But then I started to question if that was another extreme approach that neglected the answer. What if resolutions do work, but the problem is how we work or don’t work to achieve them. What if the answer was our actions?

The problem is we’re attempting resolutions with the wrong approach.

Inside the three-part mini-series, I’m breaking down the three important steps to set the resolutions and actually achieve them. It begins by understanding you don’t have a problem. You have a pattern. And that pattern feeds or enables the problem. When you know what pattern you are living in, you can break it to create a new one. That changes everything about your outcome.

You don’t have a problem. You have a pattern. 

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of problems you face. Problems are what led you to plan New Year’s resolutions in the first place.

You might have a weight problem, a financial problem, a soul problem, a marriage problem, or a self-talk problem. We can all count a list of problems we experience, but stopping here leads you no further to the answer.

Instead, you find yourself circling in the same repeated behavior over and over. It’s why you date the same people who always hurt you, spend money that leads you to drain your bank account, or live a lifestyle that prevents you from getting healthy.

You might muster up enough willpower for a brief stint of change. But it rarely works long-term because bandaging problems never deal with the problems. Problems are the result of the pattern.

Problems are a pattern created out of the by-product of your pattern. You don’t have a problem. You have a pattern.

Escaping the problems means understanding and influencing the pattern. And the pattern is why traditional approaches to behavior change don’t work. You can’t just ask yourself to create a new pattern or hack your diet or brain without understanding and respecting the pattern that has kept you here.

A pattern that might not be healthy but has kept you safe.

Your pattern is built on safety.

habit loop power of patterns

Everything in life has a pattern. Patterns or cycles are how the work exists. From the earth circling the sun to the seasons circling the earth to your DNA cycle that creates your biology. All things exist within a cycle.

That includes you and your story, which has its own pattern. The story you tell yourself and the story your biology acts out of was created out of safety. In some cases, even survival.

Your body was hardwired to protect you. First and foremost, to keep you alive but also to keep you safe. That’s why safety is the driver of all of your biology. Your hormones, enzymes, and even your DNA shift with your safety or threat level. Because of this, your body does anything and everything it can to help you feel safe.

Even if it appears unhealthy, like shoving your emotions down with a bag of chips. It does so to help you prevent pain or at least lessen it. Clearly, this isn’t a healthy response. Your survival responses are rarely healthy. Instead, your survival response is more concerned about immediate survival than long-term health.

Your body deserves credit for the way it has protected you.

Even the ways it has protected you from yourself. You may not like it, but it is incredible how diligently your entire body responds to keep you safe.
Often, the patterns you live within are built out of survival. They may be incredibly dysfunctional now, but at one time, they were necessary to keep you alive.

Give yourself some grace. You didn’t get here on purpose. No one chose unhealthy patterns on purpose. You did so to survive.

But when safety and survival are no longer an issue, you must work to change the pattern, or the pattern will destroy your life.

That begins by understanding pattern change requires safety.

Safety is also the driving force in behavior change because safety is what influences your patterns, for good or bad. Your body must feel safe to change.

If it doesn’t, it will keep cycling through the same patterns that have kept it safe. Cycles and routines are predictable. They are secure and planned. The outcomes are known. That’s why your routine, no matter how unhealthy, is quite comfortable, and change, even healthy change is uncomfortable.

A new cycle or routine is risky, and that’s why change is hard. Unless you deal with the safety issue within your body, any change, even the healthiest change, might be too much for the body to handle.

Influencing your patterns will require you to do so in a positive, attractive, safe, and enticing way. Making pleasure and visualization a critical part of the equation.

But first, you have to understand your pattern. To see where you are currently living and what patterns you need to change.

Understanding Your Patterns

It’s not always easy to see the pattern your life exists within. That’s why it’s easier to start with the product. What product do you like, and what do you hate? Your problems are a product, so you can use them to recognize the pattern.

Make a list of good products you like and a list of bad products or problems you have.

Then, begin to identify the pattern that creates the product or problem.

habit loop power of patterns

When you can see your patterns, you can start to understand them. And when you understand them, like where they came from and why you repeat them, you can begin to influence them.

You can understand the cue that triggers the pattern and the craving that drives your action.

Over time, you can create a healthier influence over the pattern. You can break it, shift it, and create a new one to build a better outcome and story.

Of course, it’s not easy. But it is simple. And it begins through awareness.

List five patterns and the problems created out of the patterns you want to work through in the new year.

In the following podcasts, you’ll learn how to use the product you want to motivate new patterns and then create a process that will put the pattern to work, creating the desired outcome.

In the end, meeting your New Year’s resolutions, perhaps for the first time in forever.

What is your current pattern?

Ready to take the next step?

Stay tuned for the following podcast that teaches you how to change the pattern. When you change the pattern, you change the product. And that changes your life. Grab the Nourished Planner to hold you accountable in building better patterns all year.

Every month, you get advice on changing the story, including places to keep track of the change.

Build a new pattern with the Nourished Planner. Get your copy here!

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In the meantime, here are a few resources to get you started building better patterns and setting healthier resolutions:

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