Do you set New Years resolutions? Do you keep them? So many people rely on their willpower alone to try to keep their resolutions and often fail. The more I learn about willpower the more I understand why this is so predictable. Forced willpower, determined self control, and pushing through is the hard way to create change.
There is an easier way. Most people misunderstand willpower and think of it like a virtue. But willpower is not a virtue, it is a skill. Willpower and self control are functions of the frontal cortex of the brain, your conscious mind, and they act more like a muscle than a virtue. Willpower can easily get worn out and there are predictable willpower outages - hunger, fatigue and stress. So trying to push through by forcing your willpower is an unrewarding battle because the stress of force causes the willpower muscle to work less well. Like Sisyphus it can feel like pushing a big rock up a hill.
The easier way relies on more powerful aspects of your mind-body. Your other-than-conscious mind performs about 90% of the function your mind. Harnessing its power can make a profound difference in your ability to keep your resolutions.
We have identified 7 unique aspects of mind that must be aligned for you to take consistent action toward intentional change,
The Spiritual Mind which includes the Temporal Lobes of the brain .
The Conscious Mind which is the thinking mind that resides primarily in the Prefrontal Cortex.
The Emotional Mind including the limbic system.
The Social Mind which is made up of old structures deep in the paleolithic brain and includes the heart.
The Physical Mind which resides mostly in the gut brain.
The Pleasure Seeking Mind which involves the Dopamine and reproductive systems.
The Survival Mind, which is also the pain avoidant mind, includes the brain stem, HPA axis and mediates the stress response.
For example, research shows that self control is relatively easy when your emotional and social minds are satisfied with a sense of pride, gratitude, and compassion. Fostering these emotions not only feels good and improve your social interaction but will nudge you to continue to work toward your future-thinking goals with easy.
When you create your resolution, think about “what is in it?” for each aspect of your mind. When people muscle through to keep their resolutions, one of the most often overlooked needs is the need of the Pleasure Seeking Mind for fun and play. How can you include these needs in your resolution this year?
Satisfying your spiritual mind with meaning and purpose also supports you in keeping your resolutions because it heightens your desire to be healthy and prosperous in the future. What is the overall long-term purpose of your resolution?
Want to keep those 2018 resolutions? Honor all aspects of yourself with your intention. Cultivate the emotions of purpose, pride, gratitude, and compassion. Share them with your friends and family. Lighten up and have fun!