Now that Christmas is over, we can settle down to reflect on the year that has past and make plans for the year to come. Call them resolutions or intentions, but making goals for the year is a way we can make improvements in our lives. In order to make effective resolutions for meaningful change, you need to see where you are now. What will you need to do to get from where you are to where you are going? For an excellent article about how to sit down and intentionally pour over your past year in order to get a clear perspective on where you are and where you want to go, read 9 Essential Questions Everyone Should Ask Themselves At The End of The Year.
Once you have an intention for the new year, the challenge is to keep it. Most people don’t, you know. Two weeks into the new year has most people back to where they were the year before and maybe even the year before that. How can you make meaningful change in your life? Well, let’s talk about what can HALT meaningful change and then what can help you succeed. Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness all sap our energy and wear down our willpower. This acronym is used in addiction recovery to recognize needs that have a potential to lead to relapse, but these same needs can also make your goals difficult to reach. Awareness is key so you can identify HALT when they come up and learn to avoid the worst of their effects.
If you are hungry it is difficult to concentrate on anything else. “Hanger” is a real thing for many people. Nothing saps my willpower faster than being hungry, except maybe being sleepy, but we’ll talk about that in a minute. All you want to do is eat, so the decisions you make are rushed or made in “whatever” mode so you can get to dinner faster. You cannot make a good decision if you are hungry.
Obviously, being hungry is a major obstacle to losing weight. Things go pretty smoothly until you fall hungry and unprepared in an airport or at an event. Restricting calories for too long is the quickest way to break down and eat all the things. It isn’t you, and it isn’t your lack of willpower. It’s simply the overriding ancient survival mechanism of hunger.
Being hungry doesn’t always mean that you need food. Even if your goal has nothing to do with weight loss hunger indicates a feeling of emptiness. Sometimes you need to be nourished by a fulfilling career, humor, feeling validated, or a creative outlet. Sometimes people find themselves eating because they need comfort. Late night ice cream binges after a break-up or craving macaroni and cheese when you’re stressed are examples of this. Identifying what you are really hungry for is the key to success here. It may not be the ice cream you are craving. Maybe you need to call up a friend for a chat or take a walk in some fresh air, or get some sleep. Keep a journal to help you identify patterns in this area.
If your problem really is being physically hungry due to restricting calories, there’s a hack for that. Read about it here: https://blog.bulletproof.com/ketosis-helps-lose-weight-suppressed-appetite/ Be very discerning about your feelings, though. What seems like hunger could easily be another need. Take time out to meditate every day to connect with yourself and your intention. This will keep you grounded and in touch with your intuition. Be sure you are listening to your body and checking in with yourself to make sure you are on the right track. Sometimes redirecting is needed in order to reach your goal.
Anger can derail the best intentions. When you are angry your vibration lowers and you have to work harder to get the same results. Which in itself can be frustrating. The lower your vibration, the less likely it is that you will attract your desired outcome. It doesn’t matter if you’re frustrated with your progress towards your goal or something else that happened today, anger has a tendency to spread to every facet of your life and bring its black cloud with it.
Nothing is going to work right if you feel angry. Many times, I feel angry when I get over-stressed and one more thing happens. Like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Maybe you’ve been in that situation, too. You’re fine, fine, fine, and then one more thing happens and you snap. Although anger is healthy and normal if expressed in a healthy way, it is important to have an appropriate outlet.
Take the time to identify why you are angry and find a way to channel that anger in a way that is helpful. Rather than stewing in your own fury, decide to create a solution. In order to do this, you need to calm down. Get yourself out of the situation that is making you angry. Take a break, take a walk, or sit back for a minute and breathe. Breathing exercises are super helpful and can be done anywhere. Read more about calming breathing exercises here: https://blog.bulletproof.com/deep-breathing-exercises/
We all crave connection. We want to feel heard, exchange ideas with like-minded people, and be a part of a community. It is also nice to feel needed. Isolating yourself so that you are alone even in a crowd is detrimental to reaching your goals. You chose which path you will walk. Loneliness can cause people to seek out a connection in unhealthy ways or misinterpret physical connection with the deep emotional connection we really desire. Time with family and friends we enjoy being around supports us by providing that necessary connection.
These days we try to connect via electronic devices, which works to a point, but nothing can replace actually being there in person. When we interact with other people, we exchange energy, thoughts, even microbes with these other people. It is healthy for us mentally and physically. So when we are missing that connection we suffer, our energy suffers, and our willpower dwindles.
Realize that if you choose to isolate yourself in order to have a single pointed focus on your goal it will work against you. This is where it helps to have someone to hold you accountable for working towards your goal. Tell your friends and family or someone you trust about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable. It also helps to have a group of supportive people who have similar goals to bounce ideas off of or be there to commiserate with on bad days. Talking with someone who has been there and understands your difficulties is invaluable. The important thing here is not to isolate yourself.
Tiredness is a biggie for me. If I get overextended and tired nothing works right for me. The simplest everyday tasks seem difficult and I meet them with dread if I am not rested. So many of us go through life tired. Working overtime, skipping sleep to get ahead, and going out instead of going to bed are respected and rewarded behaviors. Choosing sleep or a vacation instead of putting in the extra time at work is considered lazy. So, people go through life in a constant sleep-deprived state, burning the candle at both ends.
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a major cause of burn out, stress-related health problems, and even early death. Additionally, effective decision making is greatly reduced when we are tired. Bill Clinton said, “In my long political career, most of the mistakes I made, I made when I was too tired.” How many major political blunders that have had the power to alter history were made while the people in charge were overworked and overtired? I know my decision making is terrible when I’m tired. I tend to go into “whatever” mode because I stop caring or my brain fog is too thick to get around. A decision I would have never made when I was fresh seems like a great option when I’m tired.
In order to strengthen your sleep habits, make a resolution to go to bed at a certain time or for a certain amount of time (count backward from when you need to get up). There isn’t a magical number of hours that you should be sleeping each night. Just like with diets, everyone is different, so experiment and see what works best for you. Start with the fairly universally agreed upon 8 hours and see how you feel. You may need more or less. Aim for quality sleep. Not sure how? Read this: https://blog.bulletproof.com/improve-your-sleep/
Wrap it up
The fact that you have made carefully thought out goals is admirable. In order to increase the likelihood that you will see these goals realized, remember to HALT when things get tough. Identify the possible setbacks before they ruin your resolve. Believe in yourself and do what it takes to reach your goal. You are worthy of the time and effort it takes to stick to it. If you need a little extra help, a guide on the side to help you find the right path, I’ve got your back!
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