According to statistics most of us have given up on our new year’s resolutions by now. All that excitement for your 2019 goals, dreams and vision has fizzled out. You’re making to-do lists you don’t do. Or you’re second-guessing everything. You want to be rocking this world but instead you’re rocking your lazy boy and binge watching Netflix.
I’ve been there.
Too many times.
And when I was there I used to blame myself, adding self criticism and harsh words on top of it all.
Here’s the truth. The real reason you give up on your goals or resolutions isn’t because you are lazy, unmotivated or lack focus. It’s because of something you may not have even heard of. A little something called automaticity.
What is automaticity?
Automa-what you say?
We like to think of ourselves as logical, rational human beings but nothing could be further from the the truth.
Our pre-frontal cortex is powerful but slow. Our working memory – the part of our brain that temporarily holds information for processing – can only hold an estimate of 5-9 chunks of data. Because of these limitations we have evolved to automate as many things as possible – about 95-99% of what we do has been put on auto-pilot to be precise.
How automaticity works
Automaticity frees up our precious cortical thinking resources. Think of driving a car, for example. When you started, you really had to think about what you were doing. It required a lot of effort, concentration and focus. You learned slowly and precisely at first and had to limit how much time you spent doing it. You certainly couldn’t get in and go for a long car ride. It would have mentally exhausted you.
Compare it to how you drive now. You don’t even think about where you put the key or which pedal to press on. You don’t need to concentrate or think about it. You just get in and the car pulls away. You have automated how to drive.
Automaticity applies to everything
Where this gets interesting is when we start to think about how automaticity applies to our goals and dreams. Just like driving, you have also developed automated ways of being that take over in social situations, at work and in every part of your life. In my case for example, I had embodied a way of being that kept myself small and quiet. I had a hard time speaking up and letting myself be seen and heard. I would set goals but if these goals required me to take up space or speak my voice, I would back down. My old ingrained habits and ways of being would get in the way. It was easier to stay where I was.
Know whether automaticity is working for you
If you are able to set goals and follow through without too much drama than good for you! It’s likely that you’ve automated a way of being that currently serves you. If you find that you’re coming up against something, some force that seems to keep you stuck where you are, then your automated ways of being need a reboot!
If this sounds like you, stay tuned! I’ll be writing more on this in weeks to come. Or book me for a complimentary sample coaching session to learn more about my approach and whether it would work for you.