2013 is just around the corner. Thinking about new year’s resolutions? How well did they work for you in the past? If your experience was like that of most, they didn’t work. The truth is, unless the optimal internal and external environment is there to support our resolutions for the new year—or any other time, for that matter—we’re basically setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. With that said, let’s look at the top 3 reasons why new year’s resolutions fail, along with an alternative suggestion for 2013.
Reason #1: Unrealistic stretch goals
With the best of intentions, our new year’s resolutions are often too far of a stretch from our instinctive nature or the reality of where we are in our lives and how much change we’re truly ready to undertake. One thing we either don’t consider or grossly underestimate is how much we’re creatures of habit. Habitual thoughts, beliefs and actions don’t require conscious thought.
We can most certainly break old habits and develop new ones. However, it takes conscious commitment and consistent practice to stretch our comfort for some time before the desired changes can be habituated—and we don’t have to think about them anymore. The more our new year’s resolutions represent a major departure from our habitual norm, the more likely we are to lose our resolve—and revert right back to our comfort zone, i.e., that which we resolved to change.
For instance, let’s say you decide to start the new year joining an exercise boot camp meeting at 5:30am every morning, because it has received rave reviews on weight loss effectiveness. However, you aren’t a morning person. What do you think will likely happen to your resolution? As another example, your 70-hour work week leaves you exhausted, grumpy and uninspired every, single day. Without some steps to shift your energetic, mental, emotional and physical state, how realistic do you think is your resolution to find happier employment?
In short, we simply can’t set stretch goals in a vacuum. Instead, we need to consider how the changes may challenge our nature and shake up our habits—and be honest about whether we’re truly ready to commit to making these changes.
Reason #2: Lack of support
Related to the above pitfall, one common reason new year’s resolutions fail is that we don’t optimize our environment to support the change in habitual patterns necessary to move us from our current to the desired state. By environment, it can be physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual.
For instance, do you keep junk food in your house or at work that challenges you to stay true to your weight loss resolution? Are you hanging out with people and engaging in activities perpetuating your old eating habits that contributed to your carrying unwanted extra pounds/kilos in the first place? If you resolve to live more fearlessly and purposefully following your “Why,” how do your commitments and routines support the necessary follow-through and continued nurturing of your intention? Who in your life supports you, including lovingly calling you on it when you stray from your intention?
When a resolution calls for perseverance, having encouragement vs. nay-saying can make a world of difference. That’s why peer support is a critical component of lasting behavioral change, e.g., kicking an addiction. That’s also why group classes and programs offer synergistic benefits. Aside from being able to compare notes with fellow participants with similar learning objectives, we don’t feel we’re alone, but instead journeying with similar others.
My spiritual community since 2008 was an invaluable source of energetic support for me as I prepared to leave my corporate job in 2009. The consciousness-raising classes I took there over the years helped me to know my authentic self. In turn, that enabled me to overcome my ego protestations and own my mission. That included writing my first personal empowerment book in the first quarter of 2011, honoring an intention I set for that year—a truly exquisite creative and spiritual experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Reason #3: Belief in not being enough
Perhaps the biggest reason why our new year’s resolutions fail is the same reason why we set them in the first place. That is, we believe we aren’t ok unless we fix ourselves through whatever changes we believe we must make. That’s why the weight loss, fitness, and self help industries do really well at the start of a new year. The masses clamor for motivation to do what we really don’t want to do but feel we must do in order to feel ok, to feel enough.
Dr. Robert Holden says that no amount of self improvement can ever make up for the lack of self acceptance. That’s golden truth. It’s one thing to want to acquire new skills or improve our competency in doing something that inspires us and fulfills our purpose for being. It’s an entirely different matter if we feel that we need to fix ourselves in order to deserve living our best lives. We essentially come from a place of lack and fear. Lack and fear make us contract, and can’t inspire us. It’s because of this lack and fear that self-sabotage kicks in, old limiting habits take over, and our well-intended new year’s resolutions fall on the wayside, perpetuating the vicious cycle of feeling not enough.
Instead, when we restore our knowing that we’re inherently enough, we don’t need to be fixed. We can then be open to receiving the highest vision for us and for our lives. We can allow that vision to guide us to take inspired action toward being our best selves and living our best lives. An intention to do so stems from expansion and love, not lack and fear.
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So, before setting a resolution for 2013, consider the following:
- What’s my motivation for wanting to make this change? If I’m willing to entertain the idea that I’m already enough, is this change still necessary?
- What changes to my routines and habits must be made in order for me to fulfill this resolution?
- How does my physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual environment need to be optimized to support my resolution?
An Intention for 2013
Have you noticed that words are very powerful? They can inspire or demoralize. A “resolution” is a specific, hard and fast decision to solve a problem. An “intention” is more fluid and flexible, allowing room for us to ebb and flow with the unpredictability of life, while consciously doing our best toward what we wish to create.
With that said, let me propose this: Instead of making a resolution to fix something about yourself or your life in 2013, how about setting an intention to do your best in the new year to be the best you and to live your best life? Stay tuned for more on how to call in the highest vision for you to live your best life in 2013.
Meanwhile, over to you, what’s your opinion on new year’s resolutions? Do you like them? Have they worked for you? Would love for you to share your insights below in the comment box.
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