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Forget New Year’s Resolutions – Do This Instead

New Years resolutions

Every year it happens. At the stroke of midnight on December 31st or shortly thereafter, people invariably set out their New Year’s resolutions. They think about all of the things they are determined to change like their weight, bad habits eg, smoking or some good Samaritan value like “be nicer to people”, yet have no idea how they are going to do it.

Oh sure, they may even have a plan. This may even sound like one that a client told me last year re: wanting to get in shape:

  • drink 1 glass of water upon awakening
  • avoid those double chocolate donuts at Tim’s
  • go to the gym 3x a week

Well, within 2 months she was grabbing her morning cup of coffee and donut and was skipping her weekly workouts because she said she was too tired to go.

The biggest problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are often based on willpower. If it is willpower doesn’t stand a chance. Here’s why…

There are two parts to your mind – the conscious and the subconscious. About 3 to 5% is conscious and 95 – 97% of our mind is subconscious. Willpower is under conscious control. Can you see why willpower has no chance when it comes up against your subconscious mind?


It may be easier to understand when you think of the subconscious mind as a collection of habits. Most people know how hard it is to change bad habits. That is because they are so engrained in our brain that willpower barely budges it. To change, you need something stronger than simple willpower.


You need a different model.


You need something really big here because you are up against a huge opponent – your habits or subconscious mind. It has to be big enough to turn a resolution into a cause or better, a crusade. This now becomes a paradigm shift. That is the magnitude of power you must bring to the table. Bringing New Year’s resolutions to the subconscious mind to change an old bad habit is like bringing a group of weekend shinny hockey players to play for your country in the Olympics!


So what do you do?


Firstly, you need a big motivator to change. That can be an experience that gave you so much pain that you move from wanting to change to now you must change. Painful motivators include experiences akin to hitting rock bottom. These include occurrences like going broke, a loved one leaving you, getting fired or being diagnosed with a serious illness.

It could also be past pains like a parent or teacher telling you that you weren’t smart or that you will never amount to anything.

While painful experiences are more common in motivating people, positive experiences like having a baby, finding your spiritual belief (finding God) or finding a cause bigger than yourself to fight for, can also inspire you to lasting change.


Secondly, you need to surrender the belief that you can do it yourself. You have to realize that if you could do it yourself you would have already done it by now as it is unlikely that this New Year’s resolution is the first kick at the can for changing this specific bad habit.


Thirdly, you need a new way. It is unlikely that you know the way because again, if you knew it you would have done it by now. You’re not stupid. You are just up against a huge foe – your own habits. This new way could be a strong mentor whom we trust. It could be the Bible. And it could be a system that has been endorsed by people you trust.

Spend some time checking the person/spiritual being that you are going to follow. You do not want to turn over control of your life to someone else or you may end up drinking the Kool-Aid like one of Jimmy Jones followers. Check references and results carefully before putting your trust in someone’s system – and then, follow the system.


Lastly, you have to take action. Go out and follow the new way. The reason that this is likely to work versus the method used with your previous New Year’s resolutions is because this time you are not following your way. Your way never worked before and your subconscious mind knows this so it finds a way to sabotage the whole process. However your subconscious mind is more unsure about the new way. You have stacked the deck in your favour this time.

You have a huge motivation to keep going even in those days that you don’t feel like it. You admitted that you don’t have the answer. Your subconscious mind can’t argue with that. And you follow someone or something thing or some spirit that has had success in the past.


So this year if you are really serious about change don’t just make a weak New Year’s resolution. Your subconscious mind will only smirk and look at that weak proposition like the weathered tough Mick Dundee (played by Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee) did when he was getting mugged in New York city. He calmly turned to the mugger and said, “you call that a knife?!”


You’ve got to bring out the big guns and make a crusade of it. Take it one crusade at a time. Crusades rarely come in bunches. Don’t attempt to change 2 or 3 habits at once. Take laser focus on one habit and go for it. Like dominoes, you will notice other areas of your life will also improve.


Make this year different by playing big. Make this year a memorable year.

Live Your Dreams,

Sam Gerstein




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