December 28, 2010

A Twist on Your New Year’s Resolution

At this time of year why do we make resolutions to do and be better when we know they typically crash and burn around January 2nd?

Perhaps Edith Lovejoy Price explained our New Year’s quest for a fresh slate when she said, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.”

As the old year ends, we look to what changes we can make for a better new year. We resolve to begin this change January 1st on a clean slate. But as January gets underway, declarations begin to fade. Whether to exercise more, stop smoking, drink less, eat better, stop buying lattes, save money, recycle, conserve gas, or be more attentive with family, they leave a mild sense of defeat in their wake.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” This “getting it right” links to a desire to feel good, both about yourself and your life.

So it’s interesting to note that New Year’s resolutions often involve giving up something you like (smoking, alcohol, lattes, shopping) or adding into your life something not wanted (more salads, regular visits to the gym, phone calls to mom every Sunday). No wonder it’s said a “New Year’s resolution goes in one year and out the other.”

After all, we are meant to follow our bliss, find our joy, be creative, live with a sense of purpose. When we don’t, we find ourselves on the psychiatrist’s couch or in the doctor’s office, unfulfilled.

The premise of the typical New Year’s resolution is to do something new that improves life, but in fact, it often is destined for failure because it is in conflict with what you truly want. One way to be more successful is to focus on how you want to feel.

Let’s assume you want to feel energetic, healthy, happy, and safe. You want to feel loved by others while having compassion toward them. Alter your idea that you have to do something significant in order to get there.

Focus more on the “what” rather than the “how.” It’s likely counter to what you’ve been taught. Most of us are taught to go out and make things happen, often when we aren’t clear on what underlies the desire to make them happen in the first place.

Many people are living lives they think they want, yet they are unhappy. They haven’t stopped to ask themselves how they want to feel each day. This is why resolutions get dropped like hot potatoes. They don’t feel good.

If you resolve to lose weight, first determine how you want to feel. Simply wanting to lose weight isn’t enough. Do you want to feel more energy? Do you want to feel more loved and accepted by society? Do you want to feel happy? Are you afraid your health is suffering and you want to feel more secure that your weight is just fine? Get clear on your intention around losing weight then focus on that intention. Make how you want to feel in the coming year the focus of your New Year’s resolution, rather than simply losing weight.

If you want to save money, go to how you want to feel first. What is it about saving money that feels good? A sense of security? Excitement? An inspiring challenge?

If you want to quit smoking, how do you want to feel every day? Peaceful? Calm? More loved?

Determine the underlying feeling you want to experience. Turn this into your resolution. This clarity will help make it happen. It’s not something you can drop that easily because you truly want it. It’s always there, beckoning you.

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