What comes to mind when you think of the words RESOLUTION and REVOLUTION? Does one elicit more of a call to action than the other?
I hope so.
Resolutions are valuable, they let us distill our desire for change into a pithy succinct statement that “feels” like action. I will lose weight. I will stop smoking. I will stop saying snarky things to my spouse. The act of creating a resolution gives us an “illusion” of change and let’s face it, sometimes that’s all we need to give us permission to have one more cookie, cigarette, or eye roll at our spouse but a resolution is not change. A resolution is not a call to action to create a shift in our lives that propels us forward and changes our awareness and perspective. If you want to lose weight, stop smoking, become kinder to your spouse you need less resolution and more revolution.
When you sit down over the next few weeks (or lie in bed nursing a hangover and stare at the water stain on your ceiling) and think about what you want to make happen in 2016 I want you to imagine yourself standing the town square of your wild, chattering overcrowded mind. Those thoughts that spew out data all day long are your citizens, they each have an agenda, an idea of what you should be doing and a mission to protect you at all costs from the very thing you want. CHANGE.
They can’t help it, that’s their job. Telling our brain to change is like telling a two-year-old that a shot is good for them. It might be true but it’s not going to keep them from screaming at the top of their lungs.
We can’t tell those thoughts to shut up (they will just grow stronger and multiply – don’t believe me, try not to think about pink elephants. ) We need to lead them gently to the promised land just like we give the two-year-old a lollipop.
This is revolution that sounds like a whisper.
So here you are in the town square of your mind, surrounded by chattering thoughts. I want you to imagine holding up a banner that declares an intention and calms the crowd. It is not a proclamation of war, it is a gentle call to action.
Your banner cannot say, STOP SMOKING, GET THIN, DON’T BE SNARKY (remember pink elephants) – try something nice, something manageable, something that makes you exhale. Think about the lollipop.
Maybe your banner could say:
Love My Lungs
Enjoy More Vegetables
Sweet Over Snarky
Now I want you to imagine holding that banner up and eliciting cheers from your thoughts. They like what they are hearing. You didn’t ask them to change, you redirected their focus. Of course there will be those nagging gremlins hanging around the perimeter trying to get them to go to the dark side but you have a kick ass banner, remember? Don’t give up, just keep redirecting them.
You may not notice it at first (remember it’s a whisper) but over time you will experience a shift in your thinking and you may realize the revolution we are embarking on is not to stop smoking, lose weight or be nicer, it is to learn how to love yourself.
Teri Coyne is the founder of Coyne Coaching LLC and is a Leadership, Career and Communication coach who works with clients to create sustainable and meaningful change in their lives.