How to be Resolute about Your Resolutions

persistenceisachoiceEverywhere you look this month, someone is either talking about or writing about how to keep our New Year’s resolutions. It almost makes you forget that January, according to my disease- of- the-month almanac, is also Migraine Awareness Month. But is the stress from swearing to exercise more rigorously along with the resolve to, yet again, give up wine and cheese, actuallygiving you that headache? Perhaps, then, it’s finally time to make your intents last once and for all.

As far as I am concerned, there is no one more qualified to help us in this regard than Dr. John McGrail, a renowned clinical hypnotherapist, personal improvement expert and spiritual teacher. I have written extensively about Dr. McGrail in the past and he was also a fantastic guest on my CBS Sky radio program, The Jane Wilkens Michael Show…Better Than Before.Furthermore, I also credit him for helping me get through last week’s hip replacement surgery – no small feat, to be sure – by teaching me easy self-hypnosis exercises, along with extremely effective visualization techniques.

“Almost all of us have ‘stuff’ in our lives we’d like to change,” he begins. “We want to be happier, healthier, attract more abundance, have better relationships, build self- confidence, feel more joyful, be less stressed, and have more fun.” And with the New Year, of course, comes a clean slate. “But, alas, failure to keep resolutions has become so cliché, we often make a joke of it all— at least publicly.  In truth, most of us feel really disappointed when we fail yet again. Blowing our resolutions, changes that we know will improve our lives, only serves to make us feel worse about ourselves than we did to begin with.” Haven’t we all been guilty of this at some time or other? Ever wonder why?

“Charles Bernard Shaw once said, ‘Progress is impossible without change; those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” continues Dr. McGrail, “and therein lays a big clue to the real reason most people fail to follow through on perfectly good resolutions.” It has, in fact, nothing to do with personal weakness or lack of willpower. It’s mostly because the human mind has evolved in a way that makes Mr. Shaw’s very good advice very hard to follow. “We are all naturally resistant to change, any change, even when we want it and know it would be good for us. It’s a state of mind called homeostasis, which is Latin for ‘same state.’”

Dr. McGrail feels that change represents the unknown to our subconscious mind—the area  from which most of our attitudes, habits and behaviors arise. In other words, to the part that “runs the show” most of the time, “unknown” represents “fear” and “pain.” Any organism, and maybe especially the human organism, will always choose pleasure over pain. “Pleasure in this instance need not be pleasurable, just familial,” he says, “and when consciously trying to force a new change— through willpower—becomes too much, too ‘scary’ and ‘painful,’ for the subconscious, it takes over and we ‘slip’ and gradually, or sometimes instantly, revert to our old familiar patterns, habits and behaviors.” In other words, we go back into the same old rut—and another set of excellent resolutions go down the drain.

That said, here are Dr. McGrail’s simple tips that you will help you —both consciously and subconsciously—keep those resolves and ultimately have a 2013 that is Better Than Before.

1) Your resolutions must be something you want for you, and not made for someone else’s benefit. If you resolve to change yourself because someone else wants you to, or thinks it would be good for you to do, you might as well forget it. Whose life is it anyway?

2) Commit to yourself. The required conscious attitude goes something like, I will do whatever it takes to make this happen, I will let nothing stop me because I want this and I am worth it. (Say this to yourself over and over and over!)

3) Be specific about your goal,  but embrace the change as a process—and it is always a process. One of the big mistakes people make is to look at the end of the process, the final goal, see everything they think is entailed to get there and poof, they become overwhelmed with it all. You cannot climb a mountain in a single bound; you must take it a step at a time.

4) You must go about the process with love, honor, and respect for yourself or you have no chance. Make yourself the most important person in the world; love yourself completely. This is not vanity or egoism; it’s you treating you the way you wish to be treated by others.

5) You must bring intention and expectation to the party and use these conscious energies to bolster your desire and commitment. The more you intend—laser-sharp focused thought and action—to have what you want, and the more you expect it, the faster it comes to pass. (If you don’t expect success, then don’t expect success.)

6) You must work with your subconscious mind; again, the subconscious mind is much more powerful than the conscious. It is the seat of most behaviors, habits, emotions, etc., and therefore must be addressed in order to have your changes (resolutions) stick. A great way to begin this is to simply take about 10-15 minutes a day to sit quietly and picture, visualize or imagine yourself having finished, having totally succeeded. Stay with the image of the “new you” until you actually feel the delight, excitement and satisfaction you know success will bring. Then hang onto that feeling as you go about your day making choices that bring you there, step by step. This is a simple but powerful form of self-hypnosis. When you imagine anything, you are speaking to the subconscious mind in its own language—images.

7) Finally…Realize and accept that homeostasis (a largely subconscious process) is a very powerful force. Most people—about 98% of us—will need a little assistance in working through their homeostasis, especially if the unwanted or unhealthy attitude, habit or behavior is deeply ingrained.  So, you might try it yourself with a good guide book or self-administered program. [Note: try the ones McGrail has available at]  Another idea is working together with a resolution buddy so you can support and encourage one another. And if that isn’t enough, consider consulting a professional like a hypnotherapist or life coach, someone trained and with the tools to help people overcome the inborn resistance to change we all experience.

You can do it!! But it’s also important to remember the doctor’s Rule # 1: Life is Supposed to Be Fun!!




  1. I have three resolutions:
    1. To encourage people with mental illnesses by marketing my book “Recovering from Depression, Anxiety, and Psychosis”
    2. To write a second book on building healthy families and communities.
    3. To do presentations on both topics.