In this episode of the Manlihood ManCast, Josh Hatcher talks about being RESOLUTE – making resolutions in the New Year that stick.
Make a Lifelong Resolution
Take some time this week to identify an area of your life that needs to change.
Your relationship with your spouse, your parenting skills, your work habits, launching a new career as a writer, becoming a more positive person – whatever it is that needs to change in your life.
And start meditating on what it means to change it permanently.
You don’t have to be stuck at a job you hate for the rest of your life. You don’t have to walk on eggshells because you are afraid your wife is going to leave you. You don’t have to be afraid about your kids making bad choices. You don’t have to be fat, or tired all of the time. All of those things can be fixed – but all of those things will require you to change. And change doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen just because you say it will.
It starts with aligning your head and your heart with your destination, and it finishes when you fulfill your commitment. If you want to lose weight, you can lose it – but if you don’t commit to changes for the rest of your life you’re going to be in the same place you are now. You can resolve to be a better husband, but if you fall back into the same patterns of behavior, you’ll find yourself in the doghouse again.
It’s not just about changing behavior, it’s about changing your lifestyle.
That starts in your mind, and flows out from there – but change requires commitment, or you will always return to your old self by default.
Don’t be Swayed
Can you be defined as bold?
Can you be defined as steady?
When people see your life, do they see you as waffling, indecisive, and wavering?
In some ways it doesn’t matter what others think of you, and what their judgments are – but other times, your reputation is a good indicator of your character! Surround yourself with men who will challenge you and ask you the hard questions. Ask them if they see you as bold, steady, determined, resolute.
While we’re often talking about behavior changes, it’s important to note that bad behavior, overeating, mouthing off, addictions, etc. are the visible manifestations of an inner issue. You can try to change those things all you want, but these external problems stem from an internal one.
Resolving to change is not enough. You actually have to change. And that starts with changing the way you think.
I’ve found that I often need reminders to stay on track. A piece of jewelry, an item in my pocket, a post it note on my workstation or refridgerator that encourages me to stay the course can really give me a little push in in the right direction when I start to stray, or start to get weary of keeping my commitment.
Positive reinforcement is great, but sometimes you need a little negative reinforcement. Even something as simple as a rubber band, snapped against the wrist when my mind starts to want the thing that I shouldn’t have helps me associate that pleasure-able thing with pain, and while at first, many little red-skinned wrist snaps were uncomfortable, I find myself thinking less and less in the wrong direction.
In order to avoid being swayed from your path, you have to internalize the decision to change. You have to change the way you think. And that is really the hardest part.
What steps can you take to change your thinking?
Change your Mind
Remember those commercials for the NAACP that used to say, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” ?
Those words have often haunted and sung in my head, because they highlight the value of the human mind. But they don’t even come close to describing the power of it.
I know that may sound like metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, but truth sometimes can sound a bit strange. Especially ancient truth.
The word “mindset” breaks down to imply that the mind is fixed like concrete or glue…. Hardened in the way that it thinks. And this perspective really helps us understand how to succeed and how to accomplish what it is we are meant to do. When we SET our mind on improving some area of our life – we will improve. Especially if we reinforce that concrete as often as we can with continual reminders of our destination.
What is a mindset? It’s simply what you think about, and how you think about it. Before we can talk about developing a healthy mindset, we need to talk about how you got your unhealthy mindset, and why it is unhealthy.
From the time you were born, you’ve heard lies about yourself and the world around you. If you hear a lie enough times, you start to believe that it’s true. If you tell yourself that you can’t lose weight – will you lose weight? If you tell yourself that you are worthless, will you ever find self-worth?
The first step in correcting your mindset involves the choice to identify and root out the lies about your situation. Identify the un-truth, call it like it is – and then move on to the next step, which is to identify the truth.
The truth is you CAN do it. The truth is you do have value.The truth is you ARE an addict in need of recovery. The truth is you have treated your wife like crap. The truth is you can change.
Identify the truth, good or bad, and then determine what changes need to be made in your lifestyle as you strive to chase that truth. If the truth is bad, focus on the corrective result that you want to see. “I’m an alcoholic, but I will kick this habit.” “I’m a crappy husband, but I will choose to be a better one.”
Cultivating that mindset means kicking out thoughts, daydreams, and internal dialogue if it goes against the positive direction that you want to go. Thoughts sometimes swirl around and get you off track, and it’s up to you to kick it out. How do you kick it out? It simply starts with telling it to go. Outloud if you have to. “Get out of my head. I am not stupid. I will pass this exam.”
You must also kick out the external voices that are holding you back. If your spouse is berating your attempts to improve, tell her that you need her support. If you are listening to music or watching television or movies that reinforce the bad habits or ideas, toss them out.
Changing your mind is not instant, nor is it simple. It take the discipline to “take captive every thought.” Whenever a thought comes into your head – take the time to evaluate it and file it appropriately. Is it positive, encouraging, true, motivating, brutally honest? Is it weak, passive, negative, destructive, dishonest?
You know which ones are good. Put the good ones in the right place – and kick the bad thoughts out.
Changing your mind also takes education. Read, attend seminars, classes, and groups to enrich and enlarge your mind. If you want to see change, you have to be properly equipped.
Replace Your Addictions with Habits
Probably the most common resolutions are “Quitting Smoking,” “Losing Weight,” or “Getting Healthy.” These resolutions, along with others, like getting sober, quitting drugs, and many others are in response to addictions.
Psychology Today defines addiction this way:
Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.
There are a number of different ways that we deal with addiction: We often trade one addiction for another. That’s why smokers who quit often gain weight…
There are so many facets to treating addiction, and getting to the root of the problem that we can’t get into here. I’m no expert, and even the experts have a variety of opinions on it. If you find yourself in need of more help, consult an expert.
In the meantime though, and especially in dealing with the smaller more manageable addictions – I can offer some advice.
Replace those addictions with good habits.
If you normally reach for a sugar soda to quench your thirst, replace it with ice water!
If you are addicted to caffeine, (by the way – the first three days of that addiction are the hardest!) Replace the need for a boost of energy with a quick burst of exercise or stretching! (My wife sells essential oils – I’ve found that a quick whiff of peppermint oil actually gives me almost the same boost of caffeine!)
Trying to quit smoking? If you are taking the smoke breaks out of your life, you have to replace them with something else that is GOOD for you.
Get together with your brothers-in-arms and talk about the addictions you need to cast off. Ask for advice, ask for accountability. Be honest with them about the struggles, and about the process. It may not be instant – sometimes screwing up is part of the process!
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