So many people start out the new year thinking, “Starting January 2 (because you give yourself that extra day to be ‘bad’ ) I’m going to… quit smoking, lose weight, go to the gym, open my own business, switch jobs, stand up for myself… ” The list can go on and on, but the truth is, resolutions are generally flimsy. They’re limp. They aren’t backed up appropriately, and so they only serve to make you feel bad about yourself.So how do you begin to change things?First of all, stop making resolutions you ultimately know are full of hot air. Sorry, tough love time. I’ve done this myself. I get it. And it doesn’t work.You can wish something to be different, but until you actually become an active participant in doing it differently, nothing will change. Until you actively participate and understand that change needs to occur on all 4 levels of your being -mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually – the change will be short-lived or not fully realized.Mental discipline is not enough, though it is a start. One of the reasons diets don’t usually work is because it needs to be more than a mental process! You can’t will yourself away from the cookie that you are using to stuff down a feeling until you identify the feeling, create a positive desire for change that is connected to an emotion, know why you want to change, and then create do-able steps to make the change.Here are some ways to create change in your life, starting today.Step 1: VisionFirst of all, you have to know where you want to go. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you get there? Imagine using a GPS without an address or destination. There will be no roadmap available! Really get into the vision of where you’d like to be in the next year. Spend some time imagining what it would be like to really be there.Make a list of what you would like to accomplish in the next 3 months, 6 months, 1 year. It should be a stretch, but do-able. If you don’t believe you can accomplish these things, it will only serve to create fodder for self-sabotageYou have to do this part. You have to. You can’t just fantasize the “wouldn’t it be great if… ” scenario. That’s not taking responsibility and it’s not creating change. You have to write it down.Step 2: Why?This is where you get into why you want these things. Your why is what gives you the motivation to follow through. If you don’t know why you want what you want, you’ll lose your mojo and stick-to-itiveness. Why is perhaps one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.Dig deeply to find your why; it’s not a superficial answer. For example, why do you want to make more money? It’s not really because you want a new car or house. More than likely, it’s because you want the lifestyle, freedom and peace that more money will afford you.Go beyond the initial answer and find something of real value that will connect you more profoundly with why you want to change something.This might be a great place to tap into your spiritual aspect, as well. Many of us are motivated by wanting to experience a deep and profound sense of happiness, balance and contentment. Those are love-based emotions that stem from spirit.We want connection with others in our lives, and want to feel a deeper sense of spiritual satisfaction. When you picture the whys of your life, ask yourself how your sense of spirituality will be affected by the changes. Are you motivated by doing good for others? Of watching the ripple effect of love-based emotions and the effect on those around you?Step 3: EmotionConnecting emotion to your vision is hugely important. When you want to create change in your life, getting in touch with the emotion around “the why” will empower your decision more than you can imagine. Emotions are powerful tools – and you are the one in charge of them (believe it or not!).A while back I talked about how thoughts create emotions and emotions stir us to act. This is where emotions come into play. You are not going to act unless you “feel it.”When you envision your future and the changes you want to make, try to feel what that change would be like. What emotions would you experience if that happened? What stirs you to create such a change? What emotions are connected to your why?Step 4: Pain or Pleasure?The problem with resolutions is that you can’t get beyond the misery of change. I’ll go back to the dieting example. If you associate deprivation and pain with “giving up” the foods you love, you’ll never make the change.Start identifying the pleasure you will experience when you make the changes you wish to make. Picture and experience the pleasure of having more energy, moving joints that don’t hurt, waking from a very sound and restful sleep, perhaps realizing that the reflux has gone away. Imagine yourself fitting into those jeans you know you want to get back into. Feel the elation of exercising and the endorphin rush that comes with it.Pick what speaks to you.The bottom line is that humans are motivated by two things: the avoidance of pain and the seeking of pleasure. If you identify the change with pain, you won’t do it. When you identify it with pleasure, you are more motivated to create and manifest what you desire.Most of the pain, by the way, is in your imagination. So engage in a mental dialogue with yourself. Replace the imagined pain with that imagined pleasure.Step 5: ActBegin the planning stages. Create 3 levels of action steps:The ultimate goalAn intermediate goal that is do-able but a stretchA small step that you know you can accomplish soonWrite. It. Down.Pick a step you want to take, and begin to planfully act on it, using these other steps to fuel you.So, you can see here that you’ve engaged your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual parts of yourself in order to create the scenario for change. Embodying change on all 4 of those aspects and doing what I suggest here, will give you an excellent setup for change.So, ditch the resolutions. Create life-long changes by employing these steps.Happy New Year! And here’s to creating a 2013 that’s better than ever!