By now you probably have at least one or two New Year’s resolutions. You’re planning to change for the better, and that’s a good and healthy thing. Chances are you’ll start out strong. Maybe you’ll keep up the good work for a week or even a month without falling down, but at some point you will fall down. Everybody does. So I’m asking you to get ready for it now, while you’re still on a roll. Imagine what falling down will feel like. Make a plan for getting back up. Rehearse it. Tell somebody else about it. If you do, you’re much more likely to dust yourself off and get right back on track.
Here’s a for instance. If you’ve decided no sweets in ’11, think now about how you’re going to react in a few weeks when you’ve just accidentally eaten six chocolate chip cookies at bedtime. You’ll feel defeated and ashamed and mad. You’ll feel like tossing the resolution and eating every cookie in the bag. It’s a familiar line of thought (a well-worn “neural pathway,” as our learned friends say), so it’s an easy one to follow. But if you’ve done your homework, you won’t, because you’ll have created a brand new pathway for your thoughts. It goes something like this: “Yep, I knew it would happen, and I knew I’d feel like quitting when it did. But I have a choice. I don’t have to quit. I can dump the rest of the cookies down the disposal and start fresh in the morning. I can remember that there’s only one difference between people who succeed in creating new habits and people who fail – the ones (like me) who succeed get back up when they fall.