So how can we be amongst the successful few this year?
First, understand that we learn by examining our mistakes. So how did I go about things late last year?
I made an honest resolve to give up eating sugar. Tick.
I felt strong and certain in my conviction. Nice.
I also made sure, in familiar pre-dieting style, that I ate as much sugar as I could in the lead up to New Year's Eve. Okay, but why?
My general idea was that I would be so sick of sugar, literally, that I wouldn't want to have any more. Unfortunately it didn't work that way. I failed to devise a strategy regarding what I would do when sugar cravings set in, in fact, I failed to appreciate that this would even happen! Basically, I didn’t really plan, as many people don’t.
This year I intend to use Steven Covey’s 7 habits of highly successful people to make sure my New Year’s resolution, to give up sugar, is successful. I invite you to see how you can apply his world renowned success principles to your own resolves.
Habit 1 - Be proactive
Planning and goal setting are important parts of any life task. If you want to give something up, you need to know what you are going to do, or put, in it’s place.
I wasn’t proactive last year. I didn't have a strategy for what I would do when faced with sugar, cravings or temptation. This year I will be more proactive in my approach and have sugar substitutes and strategies for avoiding sugar-laden situations.
How will be you be proactive in the planning and execution of your goals this year?
Habit 2 - Begin with the end in mind
Many people want to give up or get better at something but they don’t really know why. What is the real goal of loosing weight or saving more money, what is the end state you hope to achieve? Can you go as far as imagining, or setting aside time for visualising how you will look, feel or think at the end of the year looking back and knowing you achieved your goals.
In giving up sugar I see myself at the end of the year as healthier, slimmer and with more energy. I also hope I will have less stressed adrenals, and better pancreas, and so a lower risk of diabetes.
What is it you want to achieve by the end of 2015?
Habit 3 - Put first things first
What are your priorities and how does your goal fit in with your lifestyle? Do you have something more important in the future that might need to be prioritised over this goal, or is this the most important thing to you? How do you see it all laid out? For example, if you are quitting coffee, cigarettes and want to run a marathon which of these is most important and how will it fit with the res of your life?
Understanding how your goals fit with your values is a significant step toward success. My first priority is to maintain good health and clarity of mind. I finding more and more that while sugar might make me feel good while I am eating it, later I am sleepy and foggier. My priority is my long term health and energy and this is in harmony with my values around health and good living.
How are you going to prioritise your goals for 2015?
Habit 4 - Think win-win
The best goals do not put us in competition with another. E.g. If your New Year Resolution is to loose weight so you can be skinnier than your sister, then your motivation is win-loose. Covey mentions one condition essential for a win-win mentality is the belief in abundance. Many of us tend to have a belief that resources are scarce and we need to be better than others.
It was likely I was operating on a scarcity model when I binged on sweets prior to my resolve, as if a part of me believed when faced with a table laden of sugary treats that this is the last time I'll ever get a chance to eat something so delicious. I need to learn from history that sugary treats always will always be there,in abundance and once I have reached my goal if I so desire, I may eat again. I win by being successful, I don’t loose something yummy. I also win in terms of health and wellbeing and this benefits both myself and my family.
How does your goal reflect a belief in abundance or a win-win situation?
Habit 5 - Seek first to understand then to be understood
Five refers to the principles of empathic communication. In terms of setting and keeping goals you need to apply this principle to your inner self. What do you need to understand about yourself that has driven and maintained the habit you want to change or the new one you want to develop?
After seeking to understand the source of my addiction to sugar I realised that sweets have a special place in my heart as well as my stomach. Growing up with my grandma and all the sugary treats she had around led me to equate sweet things with love, warmth and being cared for.
In understanding my motivation to give myself a treat I'm closer to communicating with an inner part of me who may be in need of some attention.
Do you understand the part of you drives the thing you want to change this year?
Habit 6 - Synergize
Habits six speaks about going beyond the opposing or driving forces that normally push and pull us, and moving toward a more holistic approach to things. Here Covey suggests we integrate the understanding gained in habit 4 and 5.
In my example I have already laid groundwork with some understanding of the emotional and psychological factors that drive my sugar addiction. Synergistically I have lateralised how my beliefs and emotions around sugar might also effect me biologically and how I can support my ability to forgo sugar with supplements and sugar substitutes, thus lessening the desire while not feeling deprived.
Can you see your New Year’s Resolution in the framework of a greater whole?
Habit 7 - Sharpen the saw
Habit number seven, the principal of balanced self renewal, should be our ultimate aim. Whether we are giving up bad habits or trying to gain new healthier ones the motivation is to move us toward greater self preservation. Simply, we want to last longer in a the healthiest condition possible and this will apply to many of the common resolutions; Loose weight, exercise more, save money, have better relationships etc.
As Covey states “habit 7 is personal PC. It’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have - you.”
My motivation in giving up sugar rests on my knowledge and experience of how it depletes my energy. Very simply if I don’t care for my body I simply won’t be around as long as I want to be. While I don’t feel ‘nearly 50’, my body is and I do suffer longer after day’s bad eating or a heavy night out. I just can’t get away with things like I used to.
Your reasons for setting and maintaining your New Year’s resolutions may be different, but underneath we are all very similar. We want to be better people and a new year offers a fresh attempt at this ongoing task. So I invite you to take some time reflecting on these 7 habits as a framework for greater success with your resolutions for 2015. Lets flip that statistic!
Steven Covey "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" 1989
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