New Year’s Resolutions that Actually Work
There’s a common hitch that affects most New Year’s resolutions: we are lucky if our excellent intentions last out the month of January! Why is this and how can you optimize your success at achieving the goals you set?
Generally, we all know the reasoning of setting a goal and resolving to attain it. Wanting to evolve and grow is a common desire. Because our culture supports January 1st as the beginning of a new year, you have the support of the collective unconscious for setting resolutions at this time. When a society has a collective belief, it provides an actual archetypal scaffold to assist you in setting an intention in place.
So why, with this natural support, is it so common for our enthusiastic resolve to last for such a short period of time?
The most powerful explanation I consistently come up with is that a lot of our resolutions stem from what we think we should do. We listen to the voices outside of ourselves which tell us that if we were good people we would do all sorts of things and if we just did those things, we would somehow become better…..but better than what?
The problem with all this ‘should-ing’ is that it’s a punitive message that tells you that you are inherently wrong or flawed in some way. The incongruity of knowing the truth that “God doesn’t make junk” and treating it with a punitive message is what sets us up for failure time and time again. And, of course, that judgment of failure is grabbed enthusiastically by the critical aspects of ourselves, both internally and externally, and the belief we are flawed or ‘less than’ is perpetuated.
Another reason that explains why we find our well intentioned resolutions sputtering to nothing is that we have a tendency to set goals with expectations that are unrealistic, which makes that handy dandy Saboteur archetype respond gleefully and the result is a failed goal; sometimes before we even start!
What can you do to help your New Year’s resolutions actually work?
Allow your goals to be realistic
This is one of the most important points about successful resolution setting. If we take the example of resolving to quit smoking and break it down into realistic resolutions it may look something like: “For the month of January, I am going to take a break once a day from my task at hand without a cigarette”. Or…”I will explore the options of smoking cessation help aids and decide on one by the end of this week”. Or…”I will reflect on and list what holds me back from easily quitting smoking and pick one of those obstacles a month to release before I actually stop smoking”.
Examine your resolutions and take on only the ones you want to do
Give yourself a treat and take the time to inquire within yourself if you want this goal or are you doing this because you, or others, are telling you that you should do this. If you have trouble distinguishing the difference for yourself here, you might want to consider changing your resolution to something like: “I resolve to discover what I want this year”. I actually work with people on just this question, so consider gifting yourself a bit of time with a Spiritual Director, that’s what we are here for!
Any goal that you have that is life enhancing will require you to change your life in some way that will provide you with an opportunity to experience how much soul stamina you have to succeed in enhancing yourself. It is important to cultivate an attitude of compassion for yourself and that could manifest in your decision to gently work on building your soul stamina before taking on a goal that requires a level of endurance you don’t have yet. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you should do this all by yourself. Allow yourself the gentle possibility of asking for help. Just that in itself could be the best resolution you could make this year!
Original article posted on January 31, 2009: Click to read original article