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December 28, 2012

Understanding resolutions will help to keep them

Most of us have watched our January New Year’s resolutions become a source of frustration and embarrassment by March — or even earlier. Our resolutions to change the way we act, think or feel often fail because real change takes more than good intentions and willpower.

Psychological coaching trains people in the art and science of change and targeted personal growth. Psychological coaching is different from therapy, because the psychological coach is directive, and the work is focused on well-defined and clearly scheduled outcomes. Psychological coaching empowers people to change by giving them the exact knowledge and the precise tools they need to attain their goals.

Coaches of all kinds are in vogue today. Some have good intentions and strong marketing skills, but their lack of real knowledge limits them to being high-priced cheerleaders. Others have persuasive personalities with excellent speaking skills, such as Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. Coaches like Tony and Deepak can excite people into an appreciation of their deeper possibilities, but after the excitement passes, most people feel unsure of how to proceed. Numbers of people pay up to $1,000 for a 45-minute personal session with these coaching stars with no lasting benefit.

Successful psychological coaching rests on more than arousal and excitement. At the end of the day, there’s not a lot of win in chasing and praising goals we can’t achieve. Serious intent and willpower are important, but they’re usually not enough because we’re “conditioned” more than we imagine. We’re conditioned by automatic patterns and programs that operate independently of our will and awareness. And so, they have great power.

Unless we can unlock and dismantle this conditioning, we’ll fail to change and overcome the conditioned forces that drive what we think, feel and do. For example, cigarette smokers can decide to quit cold turkey thinking that the problem is nicotine addiction, only to discover in a few days that they can’t do it. Typically the conditioning problem is greater than the addiction problem. That’s true for all addictions, something I learned early in my career researching and treating heroin addiction.

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