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New year resolutions – could understanding thinking styles make them more successful?

January 4, 2019
Ann Finnemore

Every January the gyms become busier, the supermarkets’ salad section gets depleted and so-called slimming products fly off the shelves. Magazines (online and off) are filled with advice about goal-setting and making change. Yet, every year, everything’s back to normal by February with very little to show for early January’s enthusiasm. Most New Year resolutions are abandoned before January is even finished. Maybe next year…

So, are New Year’s resolutions worth making, or not? With such a high failure rate, is there really a point to them? I think it all depends on a person’s perspective and the way that they view the goal they are setting themselves. Understanding which meta programmes could be contributing to a person’s failure to achieve their resolutions could enable the switch in thinking patterns needed to bring about success. Here are some examples I’ve come across:

Procedure and Specific metaprogrammes
One problem with New Year’s resolutions is that for some people they are often just that — something for the new year. With this perspective, the resolutions are approached as if they have to be started on 1st January and executed perfectly until successfully achieved. As soon as the person falters, they view that as a failure, decide they can’t do it and give up.

My initial take on this is that perhaps these people are running strong Procedure and Specific metaprogrammes, possibly with a strong Blue (Order) Graves Drive. In such cases the problems lie with the belief that to achieve a goal you need to go from start to finish in a straight line, in a certain way with no hiccoughs, pauses or detours. Anything else is seen as disheartening and a personal failure. This means that those with such a perspective are bound to fail as the vast majority of things worth achieving take time, effort and involve learning about what works and what doesn’t along the way.

Strengthening the Options and General metaprogrammes might enable this person to see the broader picture and find more ways than one to achieve their goals.

Change and Present metaprogrammes
Another thing that some to abandon their resolutions is that some people become disheartened when they perceive that their progress is slow and gradual. Perhaps this is due to a strong desire for noticeable results to happen quickly – a high Change metaprogramme, especially if coupled with a Present perspective.

In this case, strengthening Development and Future metaprogrammes may enable the acceptance of gradual progress to future success.

External Locus of Control
Thirdly, many abandon their resolutions because they feel that events around them get in the way. Often this is due to a high External Locus of Control and the resulting discounting of their own ability to take control of their behaviours and decisions.

For these clients strengthening Internal Locus of Control can enable them to make the decisions and changes they need to in order to achieve their goals, whatever is going on around them.

These are just a few of the ways that understanding thinking styles can enable us to achieve our (and our clients’) new year goals. Other metaprogrammes can also be at play in this situation of course, and the analysis provided by a MindSonar profile in this context can help us determine these.
Do let me know your thoughts and experiences on this – I’d be interested in what thinking styles you find are a help or a hindrance with your new year resolutions.

About the author 

Ann Finnemore

Coach and Therapist, living in the UK. Previously a teacher, a medical researcher and then a senior manager in the public sector. After re-training, Ann entered private practice as a coach and therapist in 2008, co- founding the business Getting You There with her husband, a physical therapist. Her first book “Life in the Driving Seat”, 2016 (Goldcrest books) and is available from Amazon.

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