Resolutions are to New Years what gifts are to Christmas and many people are enthralled of the changes they hope to see. For many it seems like the perfect time to set really big goals for the lifestyle improvements, changes and progress they would like to experience in life. Sometimes we set goals that are too challenging for us at the moment, given our current level of self-discipline, courage, etc. Maybe you’ve set some resolutions for yourself this new year, or maybe you’re one of those that set goals all-around the clock and at any time of the year, but the setting of goals suggests that we’d all like to experience some growth in some area in our life.
Everybody has weaknesses, areas for improvement that they’d like to work on. Sometimes we don’t accept them and attempt to justify them or cover them up like they’re not hurting us in some way. Most of us will spend our lives fighting these inner- or external- demons and some of us never win, but recognize that you’re ultimately responsible. You may find support, but this is your own battle, no one else can fight for you.
So what can you do? The first step is to get some clarity. Know yourself. Whatever areas of life you’re looking to improve. Name your weaknesses. Got too many? Name the weakest link.
The Snake in Us
Now these weaknesses probably come up again and again in your life, nagging you. Not all weaknesses are that important to the point that you’ve got to get rid of them, but sometimes you may find your current habits are what is holding you down. You may not even be aware of them. That’s the nature of a snake. But if you allow a snake to live, it will keep on biting you; maybe even end up killing you because you let it.
So cut the grass low and let the snake’s head show. Ask people what your vices/weaknesses are and brace yourself for some things you probably won’t be willing to accept.
Sometimes you can’t kill a snake because you think you’re cutting off its head, but it’s really its tail. But if you’re serious about these goals and improvements that you’re looking to make you’ve got to kill it and leave nothing left.
Ways to Kill a Snake
Suffocate it– Never allow it to breathe or develop. Easier said than done right? Just say no…to the mall, the guys, the women, or whatever it is that acts as a stimulant.
Overfeed it– Is it that bad? Something like a porn or food addiction? Overindulge to the point that you won’t even want anymore-unless, you’re an alcoholic or drug-user, or something else along those lines, in this case, please skip on to the next tip. Eat ‘til you can’t eat anymore, then have someone record how awful you sound moaning about the pains and how you look. Have them save you the tape, or better yet put it on YouTube to serve as a reminder. Keep over-drafting to the point where…never mind, bad idea.
Of course you don’t have to go this far. When it comes to breaking habits like game-playing, random web-surfing and the likes, there ,should come a point when you’ve out-played your games and myspaced until there’s nothing more you can do with it.
Poison it– Allow a bad experience to turn you off. I remember a former alcoholic co-worker telling me how he’s stayed sober for so long. He still gets the urge. It never completely goes away, but every second he feels the urge, he just plays back a mental tape of all the bad experiences he’s had with alcohol-friends in jail, car accidents, etc. I do the same sort of thing whenever I feel I’m craving some meat- I went vegetarian almost a year ago.
Cut off its head– Get to the root of the problem. Ask yourself why you do it. Dig deep into that question. What quality or values are you aiming to achieve by continuing to do this? Now work actively to eliminate it by making it a top priority and dedicating your immediate focus and efforts to it.
Burn the field and replant– Got negative friends? Why keep ‘em around? Cut ‘em off. Reinforce your environment/lifestyle to support the changes you would like to see. What habits and ways of life keep you doing whatever it is that you are doing?
Kill the babies– Eliminate related thoughts and behaviors. How do you think right before you perform that action you’re trying to stop? Whenever I think about going to buy myself some chicken and break my commitment to being a vegetarian I slow down and ask myself why. It’s usually because I am hungry and my mind is in survival-mode. When I’m in survival-mode, I get real impulsive and I think like this: hungry>get food>fried chicken>yummy. But when I slow down, I just remember to eat something and that I probably haven’t ate in a while.
With habit change, you’ve really got to get in touch with your thought processes and dominant fundamental beliefs to be really effective. After that, not to say it’s going to be smooth sailing but it definitely gets easier.
What are some of your vices or bad habits that you’re looking to eliminate? What are the new habits your looking to replace them with?
haha great way to look at weaknesses. stupid snake 😛
Maureen Maloney says
I think becoming aware of your patterns, and then making a plan are the keys.
1) Keep a journal of your habit- triggers, feelings, responses, etc. This will help you better understand your situation, and will probably provide some amazing realizations.
2) Develop your strategy- even if you can only plan 1 day in advance (like me), this will help overcome your greatest enemy–Emotional Reactions–
No matter how you feel at the moment of truth, follow your plan. Then pat yourself on the back. Every time you overcome one of these obstacles (no matter how seemingly small) you are strengthening your new, good habits and weakening your old, bad habits.
Wow! If it led them to very bad places, then yeah I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. I’m curious as to where they ended up…
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
Well, as it was explained to me, a sexual addiction can be like any chemical addiction in that sex releases endorphins, and you can become addicted to that. So, even though they were “over-feeding” their addictions, and suffering badly (isolation, financial difficulties, loosing a job from viewing porn at work!), they couldn’t stop themselves. One friend got involved in more and more extreme forms of pornography until he crossed the line into illegal territory. He was just released from prison a few months ago. It was tough to stand by the side of someone who did something like that, but, understanding it is an addiction, I know he needs support now more than ever to make sure he doesn’t fall back into it.
Edward - Entry Level Dilemma says
I wouldn’t recommend “over-feeding” a porn addiction. I’ve had friends who traveled down that path and it led them to very bad places. Other than that, your recommendations are spot on!
Great ideas in generally for overcoming weaknesses. I just wanted to add that frequently we develop bad habits as coping mechanisms and they’re intrinsically tied to a trigger. To effectively rid ourselves of these habits, something has to replace them or the eradication won’t last. So pick some good habits to stick in there. Our time doesn’t fill itself.
Your commment is spot on!
I mentioned and explained the ‘burning the field’ aspect, but forgot to mention the “replanting” part in the burn and replant paragraph.
Once we figure out the ‘head’ or trigger we’ve definitely got to plug in a more constructive way to achieve the result. It’s important to know that we don’t do what we do for no reason.
Ex. If someone wanted to stop using social media so much, they might ask themselves why they use it so much. Upon reflection, they may realize that it’s because they need/want some social interaction. Then, they could proceed to plant the habit of going outside or wherever and actually connecting with people, instead of spending so many hours online.
Thanks for that, I hope people read your comment!
I really liked the self reflection in this post. Interesting way to go about looking at it, but effective non-the-less.
Did you target any of your weaknesses and use one of these methods on them?
I’m trying to apply the concepts in thought. I think I recently “overfed” my weakness to over plan, over schedule…I sat it in long enough until it was clear I needed to cycle back to acting, either by actively reading or absorbing content, or by writing or putting it out. Problem was…overfeeding that weakness took way too long. The readiness to be reflective would have helped in the beginning, again, thanks for having that tone here!
Personally, I’ve used all of them.
I’ve never had any drug addictions or any alcoholism because I’ve never allowed myself to do either- yeah, I’m a nerd.
The thing with overfeeding your habits is yeah, it will take a while. Sometimes you overfeed ’til the point where you have a bad experience. Sometimes, say with money and not budgeting, you overfeed until the point where you’ve overdrafted your account and then the bank closes your account and puts you in chexsystems. Sometimes you’ll overindulge to the point where you realize you’ve wasted a lot of time and you feel guilty/bad. These have all been my experiences.
Each time I overfeed I come to a point where I’m hit hard and it forces me to reflect and change direction. Overfeeding led to a bad experience. When I have a bad experience, I listen to my feelings and ask myself how I can feel good again. Everyone has a different threshold that must be crossed
In regards to overplanning-something I can attest to myself-get to the head of it. Ask yourself what you’re waiting for and why you’re planning so much.
Personally, I fall into it because I’m a perfectionist and/or because of fear of failure. When I wanted to break the habit of overplanning and start acting I had to ask myself, “what does perfection look like?” I wanted to stop writing about how I would train and cold read and start doing it. But I fell into fear of failure. I kept thinking, I won’t do it right and it’ll all be a waste of time. I had to realize, like Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
If you have a perfectionist complex, figure out what perfection what would look like. If you have a fear of embarassment, ask yourself what is the worst that can happen, and visualize it actually happening in minute to minute detail
Great post – I think the best recommendation in here is to reinforce your environment to support the changes you would like to see. I, like most people, am motivated by those with whom I am surrounded. I have always thought that surrounding yourself with positive people, things, and circumstances is one of the most vital ingredients to success in any endeavor. I’m going to examine my environment right now and see if it needs any tweaking.
Environment can definitely get to you. Not only friends and family but the atmospehere of the places we’re in as well. I remember whenever I was having a problem with a gf or stressed over bills and stuff, me and my roommate would walk over to the strip club and automatically relax. It was the ambiance inside that was so refreshing-the women constantly listening and talking to you to make you feel better and get some dollars out of your pocket wasn’t bad either. From posting inspiring quotes and pictures on your walls to having plants and painting your walls different colors can significantly affect our moods.