New Year’s Resolutions, Take 2
New Year’s Resolutions, Take 2
Happy New Year! How are those new year’s resolutions going? I may be bringing up a slightly sore subject! As we find ourselves turning the corner into February, many of us are seeing the quiet fading away of what we once felt so strongly about and made commitments to: our 2020 resolutions.
This is a common phenomenon, one that I’ve experienced many times over the years, and I bet you have, too. For this new year, I committed to overhauling my diet, replacing all the not so nourishing stuff I eat when traveling or am feeling stressed with healthy, whole, less processed alternatives. At work, I was determined to clean up and organize my office once and for all and stay current with my email inbox. As the year turned into 2020, I was sure that this time these intentions were strong enough, important enough or just plain needed enough to make the difference. Sigh.
My New Year’s Resolutions Progress? Not So Great
As I assess my progress at the end of this first month of 2020, as any good coach would do who kitchen-tests her own recipes, I am not seeing stellar results so far. And the resolve with which I made these commitments to myself seems to have evaporated! I suppose I just got busy, or distracted, or overwhelmed, or lazy or…
How Do We Make Desired Changes Stick?
Perhaps the deeper question is how do we make these desired changes stick? How can they become more sustainable than just a good idea? I wonder if you notice a similar dynamic around your own professional or personal resolutions? Perhaps you’ve discovered a useful or easy way to make these commitments real in your day to day life. If so, please let me know!
One thing I’ve come to understand about my own process in making commitments around behavior change comes from the Presence-Based Leadership work I teach (and try to live!). We know from this body of Presence-Based work that making sustainable changes is an affair that requires addressing our wholeness, because our habits (those patterns and strategies that take us down the familiar roads of behavior), are also more than just ideas.
Our actions are actually embodied within our body/mind, which includes our emotions and our soma (the body in its wholeness). Incorporating an approach of change that includes our three brains (gut, heart and head) is much more likely to create different results. It’s also about aligning ourselves with ALL parts of us, so that alignment creates leverage, traction and old fashioned “oomph” to get out of the orbit of our habits. To lift off past the strong pull of gravity of our familiar ways of operating in our contexts.
One approach is to make small steps, with an experimental mindset. See my last blog of 2019, about incremental change for more details.
Presence: Your Tool for Change
Another aspect of creating different results includes approaching change with Presence. We often omit awareness of the state of our consciousness, which is, in my own and my clients’ experience, often asleep at the wheel. Some useful brain science is on the books about how our prefrontal cortex can only handle “this much” information at one time (visualize the gesture of my thumb and index finger making a small gap between them). Because of the way our brain works, we tend to default to our former experience and make predictions as to what’s needed at any moment. And we make choices based on what worked (or didn’t) previously when we decide on a course of action. Did I say former LIVED experience? Yup, our whole, embodied self is showing up here again.
Where does this Presence idea come in? Presence is the internal state of our being. We can cultivate our own presence in each of our three centers of intelligence (gut, heart, head). We are most strongly present to the immediacy of the moment when we place our attention from the whole of us on what’s happening right here and right now. In the present moment. We are able with practice, to see any situation or choice, from a more objective lens, rather than the perspective of doing what we’ve always done that often feels comfortable or safe or familiar.
This translates into taking time to be present with the three centers of ourselves:
How to be Present
- Mindset: experimental, including fun and ideas for interventions that seem a bit whacky
- Heart space: open to discerning how we actually feel inside about the change we want to make, and what’s our real motivation for making it? As we sense in underneath the surface and are honest with ourselves, what more do we know about what’s really getting in the way of the changes we want to make?
- Body (Embodiment): making small moves over a limited time-frame, while locating these change efforts at the edges of the issue we want to be different. This also includes noticing where we find ourselves in the systems in which we are embedded and bringing our attention to what patterns may be repeating over time that move us either toward or away from our change goal.
Perceiving ourselves and our situation more objectively and explicitly with Presence can open up much more information into our awareness about what’s really happening. This data can bring with it additional ideas for shifting ourselves and our contexts that were out of our consciousness previously. Having support of another person (i.e. a coach or peer) is also useful, as that person can offer additional perspectives about what’s really going on.
Here are some practices I find helpful to cultivate presence and create change:
Four Practices to Help Create Change
- Take quiet and uninterrupted time to really sense into the three centers within you. Try a sitting practice for 10 or 20 minutes a day. Keep it simple, focus on your breath. Check in with your awareness into your 3 centers (Body, Heart, Head). What wisdom does each have to share with you today?
- Pay attention to your inner state – are you agitated? Afraid? Sad? Invite everything you find inside you to come more fully into the present moment. Making room for all of you — your wholeness. This offers you more data to understand a more objective view of what’s happening. And remember, actions always emerge from your inner state.
- Set your clear intention for where you are going, without attachment to the means to get there. Watch what shows up in your own systems. Look for signs of support, information, people, resources that come into your field of awareness. Take action on those that seem likely to move you toward what you want. Continue to assess progress along the way.
- Trust the process of change itself – it often unfolds at its own pace (which, by the way, is often a lot more slowly than our ideas would have us believe!). Remember in your bones that you are indeed always changing on all levels. You always have a choice to practice something new. Experiment with what might seem out of the box and interesting that might move you in the direction you desire.
Ready to Experiment?
Why not give some or all of these practices a try? We’d love to hear how it’s going, so let the community know here by commenting what’s working (or not!). Please share any additional moves or practices here, too, that have helped you or your clients move forward to create change!