“To Resolve or Not to Resolve?”
I am often asked questions about the infamous “New Year’s Resolution”. To resolve or not to resolve, that is the never ending annual question! As many of us have learned through personal experience, most resolutions fail to take a meaningful and sustainable hold. There are some very important reasons for this predictable and discouraging outcome. But first, let’s review the typical defeating pattern:
1. First comes the emotional roller coaster, exhaustion, over-consumption and general chaos of the holiday season, often leaving us feeling out of balance and not centered.
2. Next comes the traditional New Year’s with cultural pressure and encouragement to resolve to be and do “better” next year. The calendar gives us a psychological “reset” button, a fresh start. And perhaps in this seasonal “heat of the moment”, we set our resolutions.
3. These resolutions are generally lofty, as we verbally vow statements like “This year I’m going to get into shape”, or “This year I’ll lose that 15 pounds”, or “This year I’m going to eat right.” You know these typical resolutions! We’ve heard or vowed them for many years.
4. Unfortunately, as early as February, most of us have “failed” or forgotten our resolutions, feeling that we’ve missed the window of opportunity to start anew. We become discouraged and perhaps even berate ourselves for lacking discipline or will-power. Then the pattern often repeats itself a year later during the next holiday season. Ugh!
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s okay. We’re human and this cultural trap calls for self-compassion. There is a better way and I humbly offer a few suggestions.
When people ask if I recommend making New Year’s resolutions, or if I establish any for myself, the answer is “No”. I say this because the New Year’s Resolution tradition is, for the most part, a trap. It’s a trap because the tradition lacks planning, strategies and the necessary small steps to support the desired results. The process of change and transformation is complex and requires the tincture of time combined with direction. Rather than “resolving”, I recommend utilizing the power of Mindfulness. Typical “resolutions” take us far into the future without the necessary scaffolding beneath the vision thereby depriving us of the clear essential steps to take in the Present Moment. By harnessing the power of Mindfulness, we can instead ask ourselves guiding questions about how we want to live in each moment. It is moment by moment that we live into our vision. It is through small daily thoughts and behaviors that we slowly but surely transform ourselves. It happens in this moment. And then, in this moment. And in this moment too. You get the idea……
If you set a resolution this past New Year’s Eve, I only encourage you to “back it up” with a commitment to being mindful in the present. We can start “anew” in every moment; we don’t have to wait for the new calendar year to come around again! As my favorite Mindfulness teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “This is it! Right now is My Life”. If we live in that spirit, we will transform and become our best selves and do so with compassion and awareness instead of self-criticism and sabotage. Let us live and thrive with kindness, awareness and meaningful choices made in the Here-And-Now. This way of living is absolutely possible in every moment, provided we pause, notice and choose.
2013 provides a theme for my offerings to you; it is infused with the principles of mindfulness and how they support our well-being. I am learning along with you and will share my journey. As always, it is a privilege to be a part of your lives for another year.
Wishing you peace and ease of being, Lori