It's that time of year. Gyms are crowded. Alarms are being set earlier. Beds are being made on a daily basis.
We're a little over a week past making our new year resolutions.
How's it going for you?
Sometimes our resolutions are life changing. Ten years later and you're still not smoking. Or you're sober, with a little help from your friends.
But, as any faithful gym goer knows, a lot of the time they fizzle out. One January morning I was working out, chatting with another regular about the crowded conditions. "Just wait until Valentine's Day," we said. Sure enough, in six weeks a lot of the resolutions had fizzled out and cardio machines were more available.
There are a lot of things that can sabotage your commitment to change but there's one thing that's sure to derail the process: Not addressing the beliefs beneath the change.
What do I mean by that? We all carry a set of beliefs about the world and our place in it. We gather these beliefs from family, communities of which we are a part (neighborhoods, school, faith communities), experiences... sometimes our own distorted interpretations of events.
For example, my father was an artist and throughout my life my creative endeavors were supported. In Junior High while taking an art class I brought home my painting to work on it. Sitting in my dad's studio, I compared my work to his (a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.) I decided at 13 that I'd never be as good as he was.
I think that observation is probably true. My interpretation of what that meant, however, was faulty. I decided that if I wasn't going to be as good as he was that I shouldn't paint at all.
And I didn't. I didn't finish that picture. I didn't paint again for about 15 years, at which point I decided that it didn't matter if my work measured up to his. It wasn't a competition. I could paint because I like to paint. And so I do. (Pictured is one of my paintings that I have in my office.)
We all have guiding beliefs about who we are and how the world works. Sometimes they're buried so deep that we hardly notice them. Think about what your parents said about you. Did you get a message that you were the screw-up, that you'd never succeed? Were you told that it was impossible to succeed in business on your own? That you just weren't athletic?
Until you address and change these limiting beliefs, you'll always find a way to conform to them. You'll misplace an important document and once again be the screw-up at work, sabotaging your chance for that promotion you were going to go for. Or you'll drop out of your exercise program the minute it gets hard, which is pretty much at the beginning and all the way through.
One of the ways to identify limiting beliefs is to fill a sheet of notebook paper with the beginning of a sentence, "I believe I..." Write it on every line. then go through and complete each line without thinking about it. Just write the first thing that comes. By the time you get to the bottom of the page you may be surprised at what beliefs are coming up and coming out. Once you identify them you can begin to change them.