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Look at the Character Strengths You're Cultivating

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This blog is part of M.J Ryan's Intent Learning Series

Of course you want to lose those 40 pounds, quit your job and start over, get out of debt, or whatever your intention is. Those are worthy goals that will reap specific rewards -- greater health, more meaningful work, less money stress. But, as you know, the work of actually doing them can be tedious, boring, fear-creating, challenging, or any number of other unpleasant adjectives. By paying attention to the positive qualities of heart and mind that you are developing as a result of sticking to your goal, you give yourself greater incentive to hang in there.

What are the character strengths you've been cultivating as you work this change? Self-regulation, the capacity to say no to harmful impulses? Self-trust, the awareness that you can rely on your own word? Resilience, the ability to pick yourself up and begin again, no matter how many times? Determination to succeed? Humor? Compassion? Humility? Patience? Forgiveness? Courage? All of the above?

In many ways, developing these qualities are the real rewards of change. To my mind, they are more important than your resolution or intention itself because they are transferable. These attributes and others like them are the ones we need in order to create meaningful and satisfying lives, the two building blocks of happiness.

That's why I say changing anything in ourselves, no matter how small, is a powerful act. Through it, we grow aspects of ourselves we would not otherwise develop. That is because character strengths are only formed through some kind of challenge, a rising above our previous limitations.

To Try: Take a few moments to write down what qualities you've grown in yourself with this change. It's a way of acknowledging your efforts and inspiring you to keep on going. Now how are you going to celebrate your newfound qualities? They are your true treasures, and can never be taken away.

Adapted from This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True

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