Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Are you one of the many who, with good intentions, sets out to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, or any of the vast number of resolutions that we make, only to let it all fade away after a month or so? Or are you one of the more determined ones who sticks to it and finds success with achieving it? Or, like me, have found that the only resolution you are willing to make anymore is that you aren’t making any resolutions? Why do we make resolutions anyway and why at the start of a new year?
The word “resolution” comes from “resolute,” meaning: “1. Having a fixed purpose; determined; constant; steady. 2. Bold: unflinching.” Are we to take from this that we only have the opportunity to be resolute with the first day of the new year? I don’t think so. Why would this time of the year make us anymore determined, constant, steady, bold, unflinching than we are able to be at any other time of the year? When you stop and think about it, it really makes no sense.
That then begs the question why so many fail at what they seem to really want to happen in their lives by setting up one or more resolutions. How determined, fixed of purpose, are we? To me, ‘determined’ speaks to being motivated to accomplish the goal that’s been set. Perhaps we should each look at our motivation before we take on the task of a resolution and, believe me, that motivation will be different for each of us.
For example, let’s take the case of smoking cessation. For one person, the motivation may be strong to become healthier while for someone else the motivation might be just as strong to quit spending so much money on smoking so they can do other things with the money saved. For someone else, it could be spiritual in that they see smoking as a pollutant that lowers the vibration of their being and this is no longer acceptable from their spiritual perspectives. No matter what the motivation, it has to be strong enough to make you determined and constant in your efforts to overcome it. If that motivation isn’t strong enough, then in a week or two or maybe a month, we will go back to the way we were doing things before.
When we lack motivation to succeed in what we set out to do, we next have to look at why we aren’t motivated. This, too, will be very individualistic. After all, we’ve all had different life experiences that have formed our perspectives concerning ourselves and life in general. If we live with a perspective that nothing ever changes or we can’t seem to get ahead, no matter what we do, then setting a resolution can be a means of self-sabotage that proves, to us, that we’ve been right all along. In other words, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Quite frankly, whether it’s the first day of the new year or any other time of the year, I’d rather not be self-defeating. I can say that only because I’ve done self-sabotage far too often in the many years I have been around this time. I became quite good setting myself up for failure in a number of areas of my life.
What I did learn from all those experiences is that, before I try to change anything major in my life, I need to ask myself why I want to make the change. What’s my motivation? How strong is that motivation? What am I truly willing to do to reach my goal? If the answers I give myself are less than bold and determined, then I’ve learned that I’m really not ready. It’s better to wait for a time when I’m more motivated then to fail again.
There’s another word that has come to bother me, when we speak of making changes in our lives and the way we live them: “struggle.” The dictionary defines struggle as “1. A violent effort or series of efforts; a labored contest. 2. Conflict; strife; battle.” Making changes in our lives shouldn’t amount to a struggle, to me. It should be a letting go of the old and embracing the new. If we are struggling to let go of the old, perhaps we need to take a look at why there must be some part of us that doesn’t want to let go. It could be very revealing.
A habit is a called a habit for a reason: “1. An act or practice so frequently repeated as to become relatively fixed in character and almost automatic in performance. 2. A tendency or disposition to act consistently in a certain manner or to repeat frequently a certain action.” In other words, it becomes a comfort zone. How many of us are willing move out of our comfort zones? Stepping outside of that comfort zone means doing something new and different; something we’re not used to; something unfamiliar. That can be scary, even if it could mean a change for the better. Seriously. Is it better to remain in something familiar, even if it’s bad for us, then to risk going into the unknown looking for change? Definitely something to think about when considering New Year’s resolutions or setting any kind of goal at any time of the year.
I wish you all the very best in the New Year – 2020 – a chance to see thing more clearly. Let this be the year we all make things a little easier on ourselves as we seek the changes we know will allow us to grow and evolve.