There’s been a lot of talk about the making and keeping of New Year’s Resolutions. I have been asked, “How do you make a resolution and actually keep it beyond January 12th?”
I have an answer. Which I will reveal. Keep reading.
First, let’s look at the typical Resolution Making Process.
Susan says to me: “I am resolved to lose 15 pounds this year. How can I do it?” [Now, notice my brilliant coaching technique in action!] “Why do you want to lose 15 pounds?” I guilelessly ask.
The wonderful Martha Beck, who writes for O Magazine and trains coaches, taught me a deceptively simple coaching tool — The Five Whys. Ask the question, “Why?” five times, she says, and you will get to the root of any problem.
So asking Susan why she wants to lose 15 pounds is the first Why.
“So I can be thinner,” she responds.
“Why do you want to be thinner?” I ask (the second Why).
“Because if I’m thinner, I’ll be more attractive.”
“Why is being more attractive important?” (the third Why).
“Because maybe then I can get a boyfriend.”
“Why do you want a boyfriend?” (the fourth one).
“Because, then, I guess, I might get married, which I’d like to do.”
“Why?” (the fifth, and simplest Why).
“Because if I’m married I won’t be lonely any more.”
So there it is, dear readers. Losing 15 pounds is the surefire cure to loneliness. Didya know that?
And we wonder why people don’t keep New Year’s Resolutions! Losing weight can be a terrific goal. But it’s not the perfect solution to feeling lonely.
Loneliness is not cured by being skinny. Skinny people are lonely. Heavy people are lonely. Single people are lonely.
Married people are lonely, too. If you ask me, Married And Lonely is the worst kind of lonely there is.
What do we want in our most intimate relationships? To be known, to be understood, to be accepted? Sounds about right to me. Faithful readers, you know my mantra, “can I give this to myself?” Why, yes, you can. Knowing yourself, understanding yourself and, dare I say it, accepting yourself — these are the first steps toward alleviating loneliness. And here’s the bonus: once you do these things, you make yourself extremely easy to love.
Yep, loneliness needs to be tackled with a game plan that doesn’t necessarily include weight loss. Here are three more practical things anyone can do to be less lonely:
1) Find Meaning and Purpose In Your Life: volunteer where you are appreciated and can do good. You’ll find connection with a group of like-minded souls, and your life will expand to include them.
2) Stop Waiting For Other People To Call You: call them! Organize a girls night, or a book club, or a poker group. Or an All Girl Poker Playing Book Club. Which invites men! You’d certainly draw a crowd!
3) Focus On What You Have, Not What You Lack: Whatever you focus on expands in your life. It’s true. If you subscribe to the “oh, I’m so lonely, woe is me” school of thought, then you will constantly reinforce your sad state, and feel sad — well, all the time. Plus, you won’t be particularly fun to be around, what with that black cloud following you everywhere you go and all that heavy sighing, weeping and moaning… If, however, you allow yourself to look forward to your Friday night All Girl Poker Playing Book Club meeting, or working with your tutoring client, or staffing the church bazaar, you will be happier. Organize your life around what you have, not what you lack. And revel in it!
Making a resolution to change behavior never works unless you understand the fundamental, underlying reason why you want to make the change. Resolutions fail because we’re making the wrong resolutions! Susan doesn’t really want to lose weight, she wants her loneliness to be fixed. So, find the true problem — not the perceived problem — and address that with specific solutions. Doing so will give you a reasonable shot at making lasting and meaningful change. And keeping your resolutions all year long.