Written By: Shatiea Blount, LCSW-C
The mindset of “New Year, New Me” is as old as caller IDs that are detached from your actual telephone… lol. Most importantly, it is not true. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve or Old Year’s Night (for the Caribbean folk), your life will not automatically or dramatically change in ways projected by feel-good animated movies and other romantic comedies. If you are reading this article, then you are part of the folk who understand that sustainable change takes work! So as you construct your goals please be aware of these three things.
- Make sure your goals are not fueled by reactionary change. Reactionary changes are impulsive “self-improvement” changes developed as a method to control, persuade, or motivate others to do something. The truth is that there is nothing about you that can change someone else’s behavior or thoughts permanently. Change and Motivational theories suggest that sustained change results from intrinsic motivation. So if you are changing to try and control someone else, it is likely that the change will be short-lived for both you and whomever you may be trying to control, persuade, or motivate.
- Avoid making behavioral changes to suppress difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Uncomfortable emotions are not “bad or dangerous” they are just uncomfortable and need not be avoided. Making changes to avoid uncomfortable emotions results in making rigid rules for your life that make it difficult to be in authentic relationships with you, your purpose, your work, or your loved ones. Sustainable change happens once you can process the emotions that drive behavior. Once you unpack the underlying emotion, the behavior can change and you may learn to create healthy boundaries and not rigid rules for yourself and others.
- Steer clear of making changes you are not really ready to make. If you are flirting with a change and not ready to commit to it, be honest with yourself. The truth about personal changes is that other people do not have to adjust to the changes that you make and it is scary to think that your changes may result in lost relationships, employment, and sense of self (temporarily). We could speak about the wonderful things you can gain as a result of making changes, but that is not what this article is about. So, in sticking to the point, if you are not ready for change, say it aloud. Making this statement is actually a very important stage in the process of making sustainable change. Honestly, you may be at this stage for longer than you’ve imagined. So, if you aren’t there yet, be honest with yourself about it and avoid thrusting yourself into change because it looks and sounds good. Self honesty is self love and honesty is the best policy.