Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.
Dr. Peter Sacco is an author, psychology professor, and former private practitioner. He specializes in relationships, criminal psychology, addictions, and mental health. He is a regular expert on several television programs and hosts the Toronto radio show Matters of the Mind: Managing Relationships and Mental Health. He recent wrote a book, Why Keeping Resolutions are so Ridiculously Difficult: The Handbook to Understanding and Overcoming Procrastination, which is available as an e-book free on his website.
I had a chance to interview him to learn more about the relationship between procrastination on success on New Year's resolutions.
What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
I have worked in addictions for 20 years as a therapist, professor and author. I find that so many people want to change and make changes permanent but fail or have continual setbacks which makes it difficult for them to succeed. So many people just want to give up after they have have a setback or slip, or give up before they even start. I have applied the principles from working with thousands of people who have successfully overcome addictions and bad habits, and succeeded with their resolutions.
Why is procrastination such a huge factor in failing to keep resolutions?
Procrastination, the act of deliberately avoiding something, or looking for a distraction to get out of anything that seems unpleasant, is the best place to begin! However you slice procrastination in this sense, you can see it as not being a very positive act. In fact, it is very destructive in that it hinders your ability to evolve or change in a positive manner. Problem: Procrastination renders people from achieving their goals, dreams and living to a higher standard. The subsequent problem is procrastination becomes habitual (habit forming) and eventually even addictive in time so whereby it become a lifestyle.
Did you know you can literally procrastinate about procrastinating? Oh yes! It goes something like this, "I promise I am going to change for sure this time, like I said many times before, but this time I mean it!". If you break this statement down, you are merely "talking the talk" but not "walking the walk". To borrow a phrase from Nike, you need to just do it! Once you become habituated and/or addicted to procrastination, you have a new can of worms to fry, or feed the fish with, which derails you off of your second main -- Intentions.
Intentions, are the plans or goals of achieving something you have your mind set on.
Everyone has goals and "intentions" no matter how small or how large they are. They can be as simple as deciding when and what you are going to have for dinner, or deciding upon your next vacation, buying a new car, losing "x" amount of weight, or planning on purchasing your dream home. Intentions can be tangible (materialistic) or intangible (life changes). When it comes to resolutions, the intentions that most people create for themselves are of the intangible nature. Ironically, it is the intangible ones that people usually have the greatest difficulty carrying out and achieving.
What are characteristics of resolutions are more likely to follow through and keep?
First off, start focussing on what it is that you do want. State what you want, believe you can achieve it, feel the outcome of having it, and know you deserve it. If other people can have that same thing, stop asking the negative questions, "Why not me. or what about me?" When you ask these types of questions of yourself, you are setting up an internal argument for how unfair life is, that you are a victim, and "Whoa is me!" Seriously, where has that gotten you? Probably looking for answers for how to stop what Einstein called "the insanity". When you apply the positive approach for setting your intentions, you will instantly feel energized in a different way because you are triggering something new in your unconscious mind. If you want quit smoking, then see yourself in that capacity, "You are smoke-free!" Not only have your removed the negative from the equation, but you've also liberated yourself from smoking, i.e., "free" which equals freedom!
Next, when meditating on your intentions, take them one step further and ask yourself the positive questions (since you have always done so with the negative ones that bring you back to the same place)--"Why am I smoke free?", "I do love so much being free of smoking?", etc. Guess what? Your unconscious is probably thinking to itself if it could, "Finally, a new positive thought process! What the heck took you so long? Please, continue sending more of these uplifting memos!"
The greatest battle most people will ever engage in is the war waged between their ears--their minds. Too many people believe things are as they are, or always will be at a certain point in their lives, or at a certain age. Moreover, some really do believe it is a genetic or generational pass-down that creates this negative effect in their lives, rendering them puppets on a string. Wrong! You have a mind and it is up to you to choose the thoughts you have, feel the feelings they produce (change them when they feel bad) and carry out the actions you want to see most. Do you know what this makes you? A MASTERMIND!
What tips can you share with someone who may have gotten a rocky start but wants to renew their focus on a resolution?
It is never too late to start and start again and again until you achieve your desired goal! Don't look at slips and relapses as failures, rather setbacks for a great comeback. They are learning experiences for getting things right the next time. Also, set resolutions you are passionate about and what you want for yourself, and do not let others set them for you!