(This article was originally published in The Huffington Post, written by William Anderson, LMHC, author of The Anderson Method, explaining important aspects of the ground-breaking method he developed, losing 140 lbs. and keeping it off for 30 years)
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As the New Year’s Holiday approaches every year, the subject of New Year’s Resolutions crops up, and there comes a flurry of opinions about it. Is it a good idea or a bad idea to make resolutions?
Most of us have a history of making resolutions, most having to do with diets and exercise. Then we promptly fail to keep them and we feel like defeated failures in the very first week of the new year. It’s an awful feeling I know too well from the 25 years I struggled against obesity, until I finally discovered the solution, lost 140 pounds and kept it off for over 30 years now.
So, here’s my take: don’t make resolutions, which are promises to do or not do something, ever, that you’ll most likely be unable keep. Sticking perfectly to your resolution is unlikely, and with most of us, the failure causes us to say “the heck with it” and give up trying all together. Instead, sit down and write out some hopes and goals for your life, and then for the year. What have you got to lose? You won’t be any worse off if they don’t happen.
I was pretty much an undisciplined wreck as a young person, constantly making vows in the morning to do one thing or another, then losing my motivation and belief by noon most days. I often could not follow through on just about anything that didn’t feel good, whether it was writing a letter, starting a diet, applying for a job or even doing something as simple as making a phone call. I improved, but not enough. By the time I was 30, I was over 300 lbs., smoking like a chimney, in terrible health, without a college degree, my successful career in flames and having lost the financial means to live a satisfying and secure life.
I had to hear the advice to write down my goals for years before I started actually doing it, but when I did (together with using other Therapeutic Psychogenic technique) my life changed. I solved my lifetime obesity problem and lost 140 pounds permanently. I not only completed a college education, but I completed graduate school training in clinical counseling and psychotherapy. I obtained the Florida Medical Quality Assurance license to be a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and established a successful private practice. I wrote a successful book (now an audiobook) that has helped tens of thousands to solve their weight problem. I created a satisfying way of living in one of the most beautiful places on earth. All of these things were only pipedreams when I first summoned up the courage to admit to myself that I would actually want those things to happen and wrote them down. When I started using written goals, things changed.
I don’t want to suggest that this was all I did to succeed at weight loss and the other accomplishments. There are lots of other pieces of the mechanism that I used and teach. Like the parts of a car, you need them all assembled to be able to get anywhere. Leave important parts out and you go nowhere. But writing down your goals is one of the most important, the foundation and starting point that everything else grows from.
Take the time this week to go off by yourself with a pad of paper and make some lists.
Make a dreams list. If all things were possible, what would you like to have happen in your life? Then make a five year goals list. Five years from now, where would you like to be? Then make a one year goals list. If you were on your way to the five year goals, where would you be and what would you have done at the end of this coming year? What do you want to make sure you do this year?
Then write down what you need to do this month to move toward that. Make a list of what you need to do next week, maybe to study and learn more about what you need to do. Finally, write a to-do list for tomorrow to make it toward what you want to accomplish this week.
Forget about making resolutions, especially to stick to a diet. If your goal is to be a certain weight at the end of the year or to lose a certain amount of weight, what do you think your goal for next week should be?
You can make your life better. It starts with a vision of what you’d like it to be, a picture with the details described. Start using written goals. You’ll be surprised what can happen.