It‘s easy to get overambitious about making changes without considering the support we need to maintain them.

Robert whistled happily as he headed back to the assembly line from the company cafeteria . Sticking strictly to his diet for the ninth day in a row, he had eaten only a salad for lunch. He was proud of keeping his resolution so well.

Then disaster struck. One of the machines malfunctioned while he was on break, and his supervisor unfairly criticized him in front of his co-workers.

By 5:00 p.m. he was still seething with anger and had only half an hour to get across town to an important meeting. Unable to face the long wait for his Spartan dinner, Robert loaded up on candy bars at the vending machine and ate them while he roared down the highway.

How many times have you, like Robert, made resolutions with the best of intentions, only to break them again and again: Keep in mind that there are different kinds of resolutions. One is a promise to be good; another is a decision to make changes in your life.

The easiest way to keep from repeating your old cycle is not to make “New Year’s resolutions” that are promises.

Resolutions made only to placate your parent self don’t work. If your child self doesn’t like the resolution, you are likely to act as you did when you were actually a child. When you were little, you probably followed a rule you didn’t like only as long as a grown﷓up was around to keep an eye on you.

Now you are an adult, a desire to make life satisfying will motivate your changes. If changes don’t feel good, you don’t really want to make them.

Before making resolutions, try contracting with yourself to make the change. For example, state what you want to change in a positive framework. Robert could have said, “I will create healthy new eating habits and gradually achieve my ideal weight.,” instead of “I want to lose 10 pounds.” If he didn’t like the change he was proposing, he could have abandoned the project before he started.

Robert might also have asked himself how the proposed change would satisfy his parent self, adult self and child self. Perhaps his child self needed the promise of a movie or an extra tennis game a week to feel satisfied.

He could have also helped himself keep his resolution by asking what he might do to stop himself from meeting his goal. Robert knew the candy in the vending machine was a temptation. It would help if he carried high-protein, low-calorie snacks, especially on the days he has a meeting after work.

Take a look at the plans you make to change and see how they fit the needs of your inner selves.

[tags]self help, self-improvement, personal growth, emotional problems, workplace [/tags]