So, how’s that New Year’s Resolution going? Yeah, I’m with you. My goal of doing a cardio workout every day pretty much went out the window with my first day of travel. Ugh. Yeah, I could have gotten up an hour earlier, but I didn’t want to disturb my husband or take any time away from him because our time together is limited due to our work schedules. Excuses, justifications, and explanations abound! We all have them and then we feel like failures. And this is what Wikipedia doesn’t take into consideration when they define what a New Year’s Resolution is. This free public encyclopedia serves us well when looking for descriptions and history of this seemingly worldwide event, but this publication is void of the realities of the personal fallout resulting from the hype and anticipation of what is fed to us as a positive life-changing decision. But every January 1st we all stand at the start line of the new year determined to win the race this time.
So, what went wrong? Well, every new year prods us to contemplate the trajectory of our lives and how we can affect it. We anticipate that doing something to improve ourselves will bring us happiness and satisfaction as we all gather around the so-called community campfire and egg each other on to achieve a goal. Yet so many of us fail before we even get started.
Here are some facts from Wikipedia:
~ 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals (clue #1!)
~ 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress (clue #2!)
~ 23% forgot about them (really??)
~ Less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days (commitment, hmmm)
~ And only 8% accomplish them (wow)
~ About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions (That was just dumb)
Statistics like these have long been available to us and I’m sure you have heard variations of them as well, so, then why do we all do this to ourselves every year?
I believe we are drawn to resolutions for one reason. I did some research and found that the overwhelming reason most people make New Year’s resolutions is that we get caught up in the popular ‘resolution group-think’. We think we are supposed to set new year’s resolutions because everyone does it. It’s like a tradition to engage in this activity, after all, we don’t want to be asked what our New Year’s resolutions are on December 31st and not have one right?
This is a result of what is called the Law of Conformity. It’s like when you were a kid and your mother always said, “If everyone jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” But I think it has more to do with trying to honor your social self, the one that wants to be involved in fitting in and gaining approval from others. We may not even realize we’re doing it because it is so pervasive in our culture. Dr. Irving Janis, in his book Victims of Groupthink, recognized that in many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs to be included within the group. We all do this, but it’s on a larger scale this time of the year.
So, how do we choose our resolutions anyway? I believe we pick what everyone else picks. The resolutions we usually throw out there are things like losing weight, making more money, finding love, getting a promotion, drinking more water, and so on. Didn’t you make the same resolution last year? No? Wait, maybe that was 2 years ago. It’s like we always think we get do-overs on our goals every January 1st. Besides, those resolutions are too vague and broad and not tailored to what you really want to accomplish. So, what do you really want to accomplish?
What if we could participate in New Year’s resolutions and still honor our essential self? What if we could create an intention for New Year’s resolutions and make real changes in some areas of our lives where we feel unfulfilled? What if we didn’t call them New Year’s Resolutions? Putting your finger on what this looks like for yourself requires some self-reflection.
An important part of the process is getting your head and your heart aligned to take on the new year or goal in a way that honors who you are. That includes taking stock of where you were emotionally, spiritually, and physically last year. Analyzing where you are now, and really examining where you want to go from here. And when you go through this process you also get to playback and re-celebrate all those victories you experienced in the past year! If you are like me you want to enjoy even more success this year and now you can prepare to visualize what that might look like if you do it right.
Doing it right takes work and I am a firm believer that no matter when you start, making goals in a healthy way requires self-reflection. This is key to creating a strategy that is effective instead of self-defeating when week 2 or 3 rolls around and you have abandoned your journey. So, what kind of self-reflection you ask?
Ask yourself 3 questions.
- What change can I make that, when I look back a year from now, I will be grateful for.
- Is there a level or type of suffering in my life that I’m ready to free myself of?
- Is there a level or type of joy that I have been seeking for a while?
When we look inward, we must take stalk of the past to look forward to the future. There may be much you want to take with you, but I am also sure there is plenty you don’t want to drag along behind you. One way to do this is to look back to one year ago and think about that thing you should have done that could have made your life more fulfilling today. Now, take this feeling and think about what you would like your future self to be very happy that you started today. Maybe it is to improve your health, your intellect, or your relationships, or something that is going to feed that vision you have for your life and help propel it forward.
We all have levels of suffering and/or anguish that we need to be rid of, but how do we do that? What does that look like? When we’re in a state of anguish, we tend to shut ourselves off from others because we don’t want anyone to know about it. We feel it signifies a failure on our part which leads to feelings of shame and guilt, which if not addressed can lead to depression. There are steps that can take you out of this spiral. Self-reflection into the heart of where the suffering is coming from is a step toward letting it go.
Joy comes in many forms and I believe it is as individual as a fingerprint. What one thing, if you had more of it, would bring a huge change in your joy status. Is it a social connection? How about adventure? Hope for something? Mastery of something, more playfulness or curiosity seeking or creativity?
Once you have done this self-reflecting and brought it into the vision of your future then you can get concrete about the process. Your past, present, and your future congeal to bring you face to face with your essential self. To a moment of choice that is consistent with your vision, allowing you to focus on it, step into it, and just start. One baby step in the direction of that vision will, as your year moves on, ease you into increasing the amount of time, level of focus, the quantity of activity, overall creativity, and joy in that area. You are going to have setbacks. You may even have to abandon your plan altogether because a life responsibility interjected itself into your forward progress. This is where you marshal your dedication to the process and start again. The important thing to remember is that the trajectory of your life is in forward motion and you now have connection with your essential self. Just don’t abandon what you started because your future self will want to look back and see that you were committed to what mattered most to you. You.
I created a workbook that compliments these principles and can help you with the positive trajectory of your life. The Roadmap to Creating the Life You Deserve was born out of a desire to give guidance to women who were thrown aside by their partners in exchange for someone else. It was originally an accompany to the workshop I took them through, but I have since found that it is applicable to anyone who wants a clear pathway to a richer, more fulfilling life. It is available on my website and the link is above.
Please leave me some comments below, I would love to dialog with you about anything I discussed. Schedule a first time call with me here.
Until next time, Be Unbreakable.