Ready for fresh starts and new beginnings in the new year? This episode is part one in a three-part series on goal setting and creating a mindset that is going to support us in the changes we want to make in the new year.
Today we’re talking about the vital step we must take before we set New Years resolutions or make changes. Plus I’m sharing the reasons why we stay stuck in old habits or self-sabotage our efforts (hint: it has to do with brain science!) and tried-and-true practices for creating long-term life change.
Mindset is everything, and in today’s episode we’re going to talk about how to maximize the power of our thoughts to create the fresh start and new beginning you’re looking for!
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [2:50] We must take control of our thoughts for a fresh start
- [4:36] Understanding old behaviors in order to create new mindsets for New Years goals
- [6:15] Why willpower isn’t enough for creating a fresh start and new beginning
- [8:20] How does the current mindset keep us safe?
- [11:13] How the Christian Mindset Makeover™ can help us achieve our new year’s resolutions
- [15:12] Finding the ‘why’ behind our new beginnings
- [16:47] Talking about expectations and making room for imperfection
- [20:00] Considering our perspectives on success and failure for fresh starts
- [27:46] A preview of part two in this three-part series on fresh starts and New Years changes
[2:50] We must take control of our thoughts for a fresh start
Brain science tells us that our thoughts determine our results. What we think about determines how we respond to what happens to us in the world. The thought starts first, and when combined with emotions that creates a belief. Beliefs create our decisions, those decisions create our actions, and our actions create our results. If we want to change our results, therefore, we have to go all the way back to the thought.
There are a couple of scriptures that confirm this as well.
Matthew 12:34, You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
In this verse Jesus is saying that if we want to have a different reaction, we first need to change what is in our hearts.
Matthew 15:18, But the words you speak come from the heart – that’s what defiles you.
This is another example of why our thoughts are important if we want to have a fresh start and a new beginning. He’s speaking about how we can commit adultery with our eyes because the thoughts inside of us cause the action.
Proverbs 4:23, Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
We are told to protect and to guard because of the importance of our thoughts. What we focus on comes to fruition, and both scripture and brain science confirm this.
[4:36] Understanding old behaviors in order to create new mindsets for New Years goals
How can we apply what we know about taking control of our thoughts in order to help us get a fresh start on the goals for the New Year?
Let’s look at this within the context of the real world and the resolutions we are talking about. For example, many choose “eating healthy” as a common New Years resolution. In order to renew our thoughts to create the habit we want, we can questions that address the root of the issue, such as why are we not eating healthy now? It’s important to have a plan (for example, to try a specific diet, work through a new exercise regimen). In order to be effective, however, we need to understand what has been causing the faulty motivation to begin with.
We don’t need to beat ourselves up about it, but we need to look at our current motivations from a place of compassionate acknowledgement. We need to recognize that we eat unhealthy food after coming home stressed and tired from work. Maybe it is a coping mechanism.
Another common new year’s resolution is to spend more time with God. First, we need to consider the mindsets that are causing us to pass that up in our morning or afternoon routines. Or, if we want to work on spending less money and saving more, we need to think about what makes us spend money in those moments. What is spending giving us? What is it getting for us that is helping us to continue that behavior?
[6:15] Why willpower isn’t enough for creating a fresh start and new beginning
Our brains are always trying to keep us safe. The brain wants us to move toward pleasure and away from pain, so when we engage in these unhealthy behaviors our brains are trying to calm us, or to protect us from perceived fear, shame, or frustration. This is how it has been conditioned to respond to specific triggers, so it’s very important that we get down to this conditioning in order to change the behavior.
This is also why willpower is not enough. Willpower operates from the prefrontal cortex, or the logic center of the brain. When we are in these spirals where we are choosing to binge eat, spend money, or avoid our quality time with God, we are in the fight or flight mindset. We are not in the logical part of our brain. We have to understand that the decisions we make in the moment are not made from a logical standpoint, and that is why willpower alone is not strong enough. Willpower is important, but it is really challenging to overcome subconscious programs in the brain with willpower alone. That is why so many of us fail.
We also tend to overestimate how strong our willpower will be in the future. We tend to think that “future me” will pick a different outcome, even though “current me” does not. Again, we need to realize that willpower is not going to save the day. It is crucial for us to really think about the subconscious set of thoughts, the soundtrack, causing the brain to default to this undesirable outcome. What is it giving us to stay in these faulty patterns, and what do we need to change at the thought level in order to move us toward a different outcome? We have to rewire the root thought if we want lasting change.
[8:20] How does the current mindset keep us safe?
So then the question is, how do we get rid of those thoughts? How do we create new mindsets? This is what separates those who are serious about making the change versus those who just say they want to make the change. We have to really dive deep into figuring out those subconscious patterns, and often that requires looking at some uncomfortable things.
Let’s just be honest. Why do we feel the need to get comfort from food? Or why do we feel the need to find comfort in shopping?Why do we ignore things rather than working hard so we can feel successful? There are very specific fears that our body and our mind are trying to protect us from. Our brains are trying to calm us.
In order to renew our thoughts, we have to confront some really difficult things sometimes. From a biological standpoint, we know that any creature is either going to move away from pain or toward pleasure. We are included in this principle, but we also have complex minds that are capable of reflecting on how we want to react. We can consider what our behavior was in the past, and what is reinforcing that behavior by making us feel good? How is it allowing us to avoid pain? These are the things we have to understand. We don’t have to judge ourselves or feel badly about responding in these ways. Rather, we can recognize it and have compassion for ourselves regarding the ways we have learned to cope. We can reassure ourselves that the way we act makes sense, while also recognizing that we can find different ways to cope.
Having the mindset of looking at these things versus just being harsh with ourselves and telling ourselves to be different is vital to our success. Adding more shame, fear, ugliness, and hate will not lead to change. We can’t guilt, shame, or berate ourselves into change.
[11:13] How the Christian Mindset Makeover™ can help us achieve our new year’s resolutions
If you are creating resolutions, or if you just want to set big goals and change your life in general, things like the Christian Mindset Makeover™ are so powerful. It gets to the root of why we respond the way we do, while helping us to understand our mindsets, thought process, and soundtracks that are really driving our actions. Once we figure out what those are, we can provide a specific plan based on what we know about brain science and scripture. We approach it from those two angles to develop a plan that works to create a new mindset and overcome old ones.
We have this programming in us that causes us to default to certain behavior. We also, praise God through Christ, have the ability to start new every single day. We have new mercies from the Lord every morning. New brain cells are born every morning. It’s so awesome that we have the ability to change in this way. We have the ability to change our reactions by taking control of our thoughts.
Not only do we have to understand what is going on, but we have to have the tools to get there. So many of us have never been taught how to do this, and that’s where the teachings in the Christian Mindset Makeover™ fill in these life skills. If we could all come out of the womb with these abilities to understand how to manage our thoughts and how to get to the root of things and create new mindsets, then that would make life so much easier. The Christian Mindset Makeover™ helps us create a foundational healthy mindset that everything else operates from, so more change in habits and processes can happen in a more natural way. More information about the Christian Mindset Makeover™ is available here.
You can also find a free workshop I teach on how to renew thoughts to transform our lives here. This workshop provides tangible action steps, and it gives an understanding of what the Christian Mindset Makeover™ is. There is also an opportunity to get a limited time discount on the Mindset Makeover, so there are three great reasons to check out the workshop.
[15:12] Finding the ‘why’ behind our new beginnings
Another way to set ourselves up for success in creating these new year’s resolutions and fresh starts is to find the ‘why’ behind our new behavior. Of course, finding our why is not a new concept. It’s actually one of the first things we do in the Christian Mindset Makeover™, because we need to have that motivation to keep us going.
When we are considering our why, it’s important to not just think of it in the long-term. We also need to think about how it can be a blessing and helpful in the short-term, because it is the little short-term wins that keep us going.
When it feels heavy to make these changes, we know that our energy can feel very heavy as well. When we do this work on a subconscious level, it becomes much easier to do it in a long-term sort of way.
[16:47] Talking about expectations for fresh starts and making room for imperfection
The question of what this will give us and why we are doing this sets us up for success as we move forward. It is also important for us to start talking about expectations. What do we want to get out of this fresh start and New Years goal, and how can we make room for imperfection?
Imperfection is the thing that trips up our goal planning more than anything else. We think a fresh start and new habits have to look a certain way all the time. For example, I have an exercise routine where I work out five days a week. I used to think, “if I miss a day then I’m a failure and there’s something wrong.” I have found that when I have created these new ways of living – new habits and new mindsets – then I give myself space to be human and the ability to sustain these new changes for the long term.
For example, I have to eat gluten-free because I feel yucky when I don’t. I have found, however, that when I am super strict about it, it seems impossible. Luckily, I am not one of those people who will end up in the ER if I have gluten. I have a sort of 90/10 rule in this area where most of the time I will choose a gluten-free option. I do love food though, and I also love trying new foods. There are times where I will tell myself I am going to be human and I’m going to enjoy a certain food that has gluten. I have to ask myself, “Am I willing to potentially not feel great later on because of this?” Sometimes I’m willing to take that risk and sometimes I’m not, but I give myself the freedom to say yes to eating gluten on occasion.
That simple mindset switch has allowed me to maintain the decision to become gluten-free. I don’t feel like I’m “cheating” when I eat something with gluten in it, and I don’t feel “deprived” when I do eat a gluten-free item. I know I’m doing what is best for my body, but I also know I’m giving myself space to enjoy life and make room for imperfection. I also give myself time to have a do-over. If I feel sick because I have eaten too much gluten, I remind myself that this is why I’ve committed to a mainly gluten-free lifestyle. I don’t beat myself up for it, but I acknowledge it as a reminder of why this commitment is important to me.
[24:56] Resource #5: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Resources #5 and #6 are novels that I find very restful. The Nightingale is a historical fiction story, and it is about to become a major motion picture in Fall 2022. It is a chance to escape into a different time and place and to recognize the ways humans are the same throughout cultures. This story takes place during World War II, which I think is a fascinating time in the history of the world. In the book, two sisters were in France during the war. One was very outwardly active in fighting against the war effort, and the other one was at home. Each one had their own private battles and wars they had to fight, as they struggled to keep their families and themselves together. We can learn so much from looking at other people and how they handle certain situations. It’s a wonderful way to take a break from our lives and get some new big-picture perspectives, which can help us discover rest.
[20:00] Considering our perspectives on success and failure when creating a fresh start
When creating new mindsets, we also have to reckon with how we view failure and change overall. It really boils down to how we view success or what makes us successful. How will we know when we are “successful” at making a change? If we encounter failure, how will we deal with that? What happens if we don’t make the change to be healthier, to work out more, or to save more money? What does that say about us, and how does that affect us feeling successful or “good enough”?
These are all big questions, but when we get to the root of them we know that we are doing the work that underlies mindset change. Our brain draws information about our identity from big questions like, Am I good enough? Am I worthy? Am I loved?
When we encounter failure, run into bumps in the road, or confront things that don’t go as planned, one perspective we could turn to is the idea that we are not “enough”. We aren’t working hard enough, or we don’t measure up to other people.
There is a great book by Carol Dweck called Mindset. She talks about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. We naturally tend toward one or the other, but we can sometimes find ourselves in either mindset depending on the circumstances.
In a fixed mindset, we see everything that happens as a direct result of our abilities and our worth. We are always trying to prove ourselves because we see our actions as a direct link to our identity as “smart”. We don’t make mistakes or have challenges, and that is the way it’s supposed to be. We have to be flawless. We don’t have the luxury of “becoming”, but rather we are either talented or untalented.
This mindset causes us not to tackle problems and instead we run away when confronted with a failure. When this happens, failure only reinforces the fact that we aren’t good, smart, or “enough”. Why would we continue to try to make changes if it means we have to look bad again? Success means proving that we are right. It’s proving that we are enough, and so we will do everything we can to orchestrate the circumstances to make sure we succeed – even if it means avoiding something new.
A growth mindset says, “I can become what I need to become. I am not broken. I am able to take the risk to keep working on myself. I’m able to see what happens.” It’s an experimental kind of mindset, allowing us to try and to keep working at it until we get the results we want. We know there will be bumps along the way, but we are okay with that because the bumps are not directly linked to our identities. A person with a growth mindset believes that we can change our qualities, we can grow, and that success is about learning rather than about achieving the goal right away.
If we aren’t able to get to a growth mindset, we have to ask ourselves why. What we teach in the Christian Mindset Makeover™ is really a great companion for this, because it helps us understand the thoughts beneath our vulnerability around failure. We can grapple with the desire to get things right the first time. Once we have done that, we have the powerful tools to be able to say that God loves us right where we are. We can start from there, and plan for change on a neurological level. We use brain priming to move us toward a growth mindset.
The Christian Mindset Makeover™ also encourages an attitude of space for imperfection and a compassion for change. As humans, we won’t always get it right. No one expects us to be perfect. We are all working and changing, and as long as we move toward the goal then we are exactly where we want to be. It’s really, really powerful. Again, the free workshop provides a taste of these teachings as well as an understanding of the importance of getting to the root of our thoughts.
As Christians we have probably all heard Romans 12:2, which is the verse that tells us we need to renew our minds. The problem is that, without brain science behind it and a specific plan to do it, we can’t renew our minds effectively and make the changes we desire.
This is why I’m so excited about teaching women more about the brain science and scripture on HOW to renew your mind in the Christian Mindset Makeover™. Once we understand ourselves and know why we’re stuck in the toxic patterns behind our behaviors, freedom comes from the confidence in knowing who we are in God. We feel more secure, because we don’t have to prove ourselves. We don’t have to operate from feeling like we need to do certain things to feel love. There is so much joy that comes from this knowledge.
[27:46] A preview of part two in this three-part series on fresh starts and New Years changes
Moving forward, we are going to continue this discussion on how to have this new mindset to help us put together these resolutions and reach our goals effectively. Next episode, we will talk specifically about this three-step formula that I use to break down the goal setting process to create successful goals – goals that really do move us forward.
It’s more than just the SMART goals, which we’ve all heard about, but it’s also considering what we can do to make sure we are setting ourselves up for success. That’s what I want you to learn from these three episodes, so I’m excited to dig into that more and I would love to hear any feedback you have about this episode.
You can find me here on Instagram at @vibrantchristianliving, and I would love to talk to you more there. And I’ll see you back here next week for our next episode on creating new beginnings in the new year.
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON NEW BEGINNINGS:
- Ep 29: Change Your Life with One Small Shift
- Ep 32: Get Over the FEAR of Change and Choose What’s Best Over What’s Comfortable
- Ep 61a: Mindset Matters: Help! I Need a New Mindset + a New Attitude
- Ep 93: “How can I make spending time with God a priority?”
- Ep 113: Mindset Matters: Why Renewing Your Mind Matters
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