As the Gregorian calendar tick-tocks its way into 2011, many Ashevilleans will make resolutions hoping to change their lives for the better. Many start out with good intentions, but according to national polls, about 75 percent won't succeed.
Gary Rollins, a local personal and professional development coach, suggests that the usual efforts don't create lasting change because most of us approach the issue from the wrong level.
"Most people approach change from a behavioral level, and what is preventing change is much deeper than that," says Rollins. "Change is an inside job."
According to his Principle Impact Program, individuals are like onions, comprised of layers. Starting from the most external, the layers consist first of the environment, then behavior, followed by inner resources and talents, core beliefs and values, and identity.
Most of the obstacles that sabotage our desire for change stem from core beliefs about who we are and what we deserve; simply changing our environment or behavior will not create lasting results, says Rollins.
His program outlines five core principles that help us meet our deeper self and make change from there.
The first he calls Integrity, from the Latin integritatem, meaning "wholeness". Embodying our wholeness means telling the truth about who we are, how we're feeling and our core values.
Most of us are taught to listen to external voices; instead this principle helps us tap into our true desires and our deeper callings. Rollins suggests that when we let these lead the way, lasting change will occur with joy, excitement and appreciation.
"An acorn becomes an oak, because the potential is built in. It will never be a pine tree," says Rollins. "Humans have the same unfolding potential within, and the more we focus on those inner desires, the more energy we have to deal with the obstacles that may arise."
At the same time, the program recognizes that we are simultaneously in relationship to everything else. "Polls show that the No. 1 obstacle people give for not accomplishing their goals is family and friends," Rollins continues. "People need support to make changes, yet some of our intimates have an investment in keeping us the way we are."
The next principle he calls Relatedness. It involves not letting our external judgment and observations prevent us from expressing our inner truth. "Believing we are separate is a lie," he continues. "It keeps us polarized, looking for differences and developing judgments." Instead, Rollins suggests we look for our commonality and similarities, and learn to "say what we mean and mean what we say." We redefine ourselves from the inside out and sift through the trees of potential sabotage, he continues.
This requires taking responsibility for our experience, and that's the basis of the third principle. "We are where we are by choice, though not necessarily all of it conscious," says Rollins. He mentions that while we might be victims of others' actions, when we choose to operate as a victim, we will feel hopeless and helpless. Taking responsibility means we regain our personal power, and reclaim the ability to influence our situation.
From there, we can create a new vision and then learn to practice that vision.
Masters of many different spiritual traditions suggest that energy follows thought, so whatever we focus on gets bigger (for good or bad). "We think about 60 to 80,000 thoughts a day, and about 85 percent of those will be repeated tomorrow," states Rollins. "To make lasting change, we need to practice thinking new thoughts." Keeping these thoughts focused on the positive is the key to lasting success for change.
The last principle in Rollins program is creating a plan. "If you want to have lunch with someone, you can say 'let's have lunch', but it is more likely to happen if you set a time and a place. The same structure is needed to support a goal," he continues.
Rather than overwhelming yourself with a huge plan, Will Eill, a Life Coach in Asheville, suggests creating bite-sized chunks. "If you want to lose weight because you feel better in your body when you're lighter, then you can decide to go to the gym two times a week."
Both Eill and Rollins remind us to be flexible.
"When we fall off the plan, it doesn't matter that we fell off," he says. "It's what we think, feel and do when we fall off that is important. People tend to get emotional and almost hysterical when they haven't met their goals. It's insanity what we do to ourselves." Instead, he recommends coming back to the core value and remember that making lasting change is a process.
So this year, as you make your resolutions, remember that you're stepping into something bigger. You're stepping into the fullness of your identity. You're stepping into the true you.