Join the masses
‘Tis the season to join the masses in their compulsory mandate of resolution making whose shelf life lasts barely longer than a mayfly’s existence. A more apt term for these ‘resolutions’ would be wishes, fantasies, or perhaps dreams. What might the Vegas line be on the average American’s resolution? I’ll take the under. I also wonder if someone has pursued the venture of a 2-month gym that opens for new registrations from January through the end of February and inconspicuously closes without anyone noticing. Resolution making is not a new phenomenon, although the declaration of them has surely changed since the days of wholesome Beaver Cleaver on the black ‘n white. If someone made a resolution in a forest without someone to announce it to, does it count as a resolution? Part of the experience seems to be the public declaration and cascade of online affirmations that make it official. In turn, this prompts new resolution responses that were inspired by that initial resolution. Following? I wonder who has the dubious honor of pushing that first resolution ‘domino’? A fascinating sequence of human herd mentality you can observe from the comfort of your own home this time of year.
Grumpy old man
To answer your question, no, I am not sitting on the front porch with a shotgun at my side and a stalk of wheat hanging from my snarl aimed at every passerby. This is not an anti-inspiration campaign. Still, inspiration is too easy. It takes mere moments to pull up dozens, if not thousands, of motivational and inspirational quotes, stories, and videos from the webisphere. Couch philosophers, brave survivors, and self-appointed motivational gurus. So much to choose from! While I may sound as sarcastic as it seems, I do agree there is certainly value in them. It still begs the question- is this how sustained change happens? Challenge your authentic self and ask, what long-term change have I made in my life because of one moment of inspiration? In the harsh annals of reality, change can be a slow process that far exceeds the attention span we have for a 4-minute bait click video. Most can run a sprint- far more impressive are those who persevere through a marathon.
Change change change
A road we can choose to explore with this is the stages of change, lesser known as The Transtheoretical Model. It was developed in the 1970s by Prochaska and DiClemente and explored how smokers’ journey through the change from active smoking to maintaining cessation. Without getting into too much depth here, they postulated 6 stages of change ranging from precontemplation (basically not ready for any sort of change) all the way through maintenance of created change. I have found it very relatable and transferable to the many varieties of change people seek. Take a look online for further information. The takeaway from the TTM model is that sustained change rarely happens in a moment.
Into the depths
Does this mean the social media police (SMP) should scour from the internet anything that creates the euphoric sensation of inspiration? Of course not. What I would suggest though is to not superficialize that moment by keeping it on the surface. Dig and connect a little deeper. Ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this change?’ and then here’s the kicker; be authentic, real, and honest with yourself. Use that moment of inspiration as an opportunity for something more. An effective method to facilitate this would be to proactively reflect on and identify your values. Then paring them down by priority and hierarchy to the individual. One is then left with a blueprint of their core values that are now the GPS for future choices. When asking clients to share some of their values it is not uncommon to receive a confused expression in response. How often do we take time to think about these things beyond the surface? Embedded in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is engaging in value-based behavior. That translates into a more intentional, and subsequently meaningful way of living.
From dad bod to beach bod
Let’s use the most common resolution identified by Americans; the diet. Imagine…. After days (or weeks) of indulging myself at holiday parties, drowning out family drama with food, and engaging in get-togethers with friends, I find myself scrolling through my IG in envy of the photoshopped life of others. “Ugghh!!”. I let out a guttural groan. “Enough is enough! I cannot continue like this! How will I be able to go on our mid-winter vacation like this? It will be so embarrassing! I am now inspired to be different! That’s it. Skinny Lilly’s Universe year membership here I come!” *Pause*. If this is the sole motivation for making this change it, will likely be short-lived. However, if I have identified health, energy, mood, fitness, empowerment, freedom of choice, improved relationships, or emotional management as values (many more possibilities, I am sure), then I am in a far better position to create change. With some help, I can then break these values down into the different areas of my life; personal, family, professional, social, etc. and create an intention of how to engage in value-driven behavior within those areas. One immediate impact that has is moving success from being identified as an all-or-nothing-final-result to being involved in activities/behaviors/choices that fit with what I value. This is only one possible strategy from the toolbox of change. Yes, it is work. Yes, it can be slow and have setbacks. No, it does not come with a score, rolling credits, or applause. BUT it is long-term, rewarding, and improves your quality of life as YOU see fit. Thus, when I say, “stay uninspired” I mean stay away from frivolous and fleeting inspiration. Rather, choose values and intentions for extended inspiration. Just some food for thought (pun intended).