I used to think New Year's Resolutions were a matter of will power alone. I'd set goals with vigour and psych myself up with all the enthusiasm I could muster. By March, inevitably, my goals would fall by the wayside and I'd sit in a combination of guilt and shame that I didn't have it in me to follow through. That was before I learned about the Myth of Will Power and my approach to goals changed for good. Here's my summary of the three essential ingredients to making sure 2022 was the year we looked back on and said unequivocally "Yes, I followed through".
Step 1. Write down your values
Despite being the number one driver of daily decisions, most people read the news more frequently than they write down their values.
Simply put, your values are those things most important to you.
You do not need a complex analysis of your values, but you do need the quiet head-space to reflect on all aspects of your life carefully. The Valued Living Questionnaire poses 10 areas of life to consider:
Marriage and intimate relationships
Friendship and interpersonal relationships
Leisure and recreation
I find clients prefer to choose from the list of needs to identify what is most important in each of these areas.
Once you've explored this divergent thinking, it's time to converge your thoughts by choosing the top five that speak most clearly to you. Ask yourself questions such as "What about this is most important to me?"..."What would that give me?"... "Why is this so important to me?". Narrow your list to top five and count them on your fingers daily to keep them front of mind.
Front of mind, and back of mind is the only way to actualise.
Step 2. Hear what your unconscious has to say on it
If you want to find your forever relationship this year, but your unconscious holds the fear of intimacy, you will only go so deep in relationship before an unconscious sabotage.
Your unconscious is that part of you that holds all your beliefs that have been generating since you were in your mother's womb. These were then reiterated in infancy and childhood and reassessed in adolescence and adulthood. Your unconscious drives 90% of your behaviour, meaning "will power" is simply a nudge to get you over a hump, but sustainable change happens deep in the psyche, beyond control of your everyday thinking.
Tip 2. Practice active imagination. If you are familiar with meditation or visualisation you'll probably pick it up quickly, but otherwise you'll need a therapist to guide you there. Active Imagination could be likened to wakeful dreaming in that the images come from your unconscious but can be grasped by the conscious. You can ask any question of your unconscious in this state, such as "What is it that's coming through me this year?", "What is my purpose in 2022?" or simply "What is it I'm here to create this year?"
Including the back of the mind in your goal setting is the only way to actualise.
Step 3. Integrate the front and back of your mind
Counting your values on your fingers is a way to bring the front and back of the mind together. You can think of it as a ritual. Carl Jung noted that symbols are powerful ways to transformation, because a picture tells a thousand words.
You can use your body as a symbol, as in contains on your fingers or embodying your goals through yoga asana. For example, if you seek assertion, a daily warrior pose and hand stand will help you feel like Hercules standing on, and then holding the whole of the earth.
You can also use any creative practice to unite the front and back (conscious and unconscious) parts of your mind. For example, drawing, painting or writing a story of where you'd like to be at the end of 2022 enhances your senses as though you are already there. This practice plants the essential ingredients in the Reticular Activating System - the part of the brain that filters the wheat from the chaff whenever we're scanning a situation.
By clarifying the essential ingredients and planting them at the sensory level, you will unconsciously be drawn to fulfilling this goal.
Integrating the conscious and unconscious is the sustainable way to fulfil your goals.
This article is merely the tip of the iceberg on this subject. You can listen in on my conversation with Dr Rachel Hannam on this very topic LIVE@5 on Facebook.
You can also book in for embodied and creative psychotherapy with me at www.onenaturaltherapies.com.au
Alexis Dennehy holds a Master of Public Health, Bachelor of Naturopathy and Diplomas of Remedial Massage, Nutrition and Yoga Therapy. Her clients have coined her the "Body-Whisperer" as she uses the body itself for relief of physical, mental and emotional pain. Book now and find out for yourself.
Listen in on our favourite podcast This Jungian Life for more on Assessing Your Values: Meaning and Motivation