New Year Resolutions: Increasing your chances of making them work
It’s that time of year again when one calendar year flows into the next. It appears to be a good opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. It’s been a tradition since ancient Roman times to make resolutions for the New Year. People take time to contemplate and find ways to improve themselves and their life circumstances. Over the years we have found that the many people are not able to follow through with their resolutions. Perhaps, we could evaluate our method of making resolutions and see how we can improve this. The terms goals and resolutions will be used interchangeably as they are similar in the creation process.
It’s important to remember that the primary reason people don’t succeed is because they have thought patterns or beliefs that keep them trapped in their current circumstances. These are primarily housed in our subconscious mind and not readily accessible unless we meditate on a regular basis or review in detail the themes and patterns in our lives. For example, the most popular resolutions include loosing weight, quitting smoking, and reducing debt. To successfully accomplish these goals it is helpful to understand why we are keeping the weight or the debt. What emotional wounds are we trying to bury by eating foods that are not optimal for us or shopping for goods that give us very temporary pleasure. In order to be free of these beliefs it’s helpful to understand our conscious and subconscious mind. A good resource for this is the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton including his book: Biology of Belief (2005). Once we become consciously aware of our patterns one good way to change our programming is through love, forgiveness, and gratitude. A good resource for this is the book Zero Limits (2007) by Joe Vitale and Dr. Hew Len. Just like any resource you have to take from it the basic concept and individually tailor it to your situation.
The traditional method for setting goals has been to focus primarily on the individual setting the goal. No person is an island, hence cannot thrive in isolation. We tend to look at a very small social unit containing the individual making the resolution. In the larger picture we are all connected to each other, plants, animals, the entire planet, and perhaps even the solar system. The choices made by one person have an effect on others. In addition, it is people who assist us in accomplishing our goals. Everything we could possible desire is available to us on this earth and is created by or facilitated by another human being. Plants and animals also play their part in this. Tapping into this rich resource of other sentient life forms can truly benefit us. When we remain consistent in our consideration of others it changes dynamics on a more subtle level. Eventually others become more considerate of us. If everyone contributed what they could towards the general benefit of mankind, we would have a surplus to share. People who needed to could tap into this rich resource as needed. It would strengthen the idea of giving back instead of just taking and depleting resources. Support is not just from tangible things. It can also come from things that are unseen. If you are kind and compassionate with yourself every thought, action, and deed comes from a more loving place. It’s almost as if people conspire to make your dreams materialize and goals are accomplished effortlessly.
It is also important to remember that deprivation and punishment are not beneficial to growth. Methods based on self acceptance, acceptance of others, and loving kindness have better long range stability. The magic lies in the subtleties, understanding our relationship with everything in our universe.
Here are some things to consider and questions to ask yourself when making goals or resolutions:
1) Does it align with my personal values and priorities I have created for my life? Often people make goals to please others at the cost of their own happiness. It is beneficial to reorder and reorganize our priorities in life from time to time. It helps monitor our growth.
2) Could this resolution cause harm to me or others? For example, a person may determine that it’s in their best interest to end a relationship. This is likely to cause hurt feelings. This in itself is not harmful. However, if the intention is to deliberately hurt the other person, hoping they will leave, it can cause harm. Also a growth opportunity is lost in mustering the courage to say what you really mean and want.
3) Will the gains made be at a cost to others including people, animals, and our environment?
4) Am I thinking about how my thoughts and actions can benefit others? All self growth is beneficial to others. You interaction with everyone improves if you are in a happier place.
5) Am I respecting the uniqueness of others, the planet, and other life forms? This helps us determine the judgements we make of ourselves and others.
6) Am I using appreciation and gratitude in my day to day life? Gratitude is not just for the positive experiences, it’s also for the trials, tribulations, negative experiences that are pivotal for our growth. People who we perceive as mean and disrespectful push our buttons and reveal wounds hidden deep inside us. These wounds are major obstacles to our growth. It is essential to make peace with our wounds and unloved parts of ourselves before we can grow.
7) Am I focusing on all that I am doing right or simply beating myself up for all my perceived failures. It’s very easy to focus on one negative situation we perceive as a mistake and completely discredit the thousands of times we got things right.
Here are some steps in setting your goals:
1) Determine in as much detail as possible what you are seeking. It’s helpful to start by writing it down.
2) Use all your senses to make this goal more real. For example, what would it feel like to loose weight? How would my day to day life be different? Experience with your senses typical chores, activities, work, relationships, and so on.
3) Practice small steps that will take you closer to your end point. Start living your life as if you have accomplished the goal. This practice gives you more clarity to see if in fact you actually want to get there. Also it creates different neural networks in your brain that can help in long term sustaining of the goal.
4) Feel what it would be like to have accomplished your goal. Add as much detail as you can. Include people important to you in the visualization and feeling. See them rejoicing with you.
5) Remember that it takes more than 50 repetitions to change a habit. What we are doing is essentially changing some of our habits and patterns. Practicing a new skill for at least a month starts creating change. Focus on the times you succeeded in saying no to the cookie or impulse purchase rather than the few times you struggled with that.
Once you have a better understanding of the nature of your own mind, thought patterns, beliefs your level of confidence to accomplish goals will increase. It is also beneficial to read Dr. Fred Luskin’s work on forgiveness. This helps heal our wounds. Consideration of others and practicing loving kindness will create long lasting peace. This is the ideal mental state to create whatever it is we desire in our lives. In this emotional state we also draw to us people who can help us. Ultimately it’s about removing the obstacles in our path that prevent us from reaching our goals. As many wise people have said, it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination.
May all the obstacles in your path vanish so that your dreams become your reality.