Tonight, we celebrate the benchmark of another year done and the beginning of a new year full of hope, change & determination. While the spirit of making those infamous New Years Resolutions is one of positive change, these resolutions are notorious for their short lifespan. And yet, we continue to make this singular moment on the cusp of a new year bear the weight and responsibility of valuing our success for the year to come.
Every year we promote the idea that you have one chance to make these positive changes in our lives. And if you falter? It’s over. You’ve failed. This goal is no longer valid or reachable because it’s broken the sacred seal of the Resolution. In a nutshell, here are the biggest problems with the NYR Mindset:
- Singularity – This is the best time to set new goals for yourself.
- Difficulty – The goal(s) chosen are lofty and require steel iron self discipline.
- Shallowness – The goal we pick takes care of a symptom and doesn’t address the real issues underneath.
First of all, let’s talk about time. We are conditioned machines when we think about time. In goal making or setting new habits, how often do you tell yourself, “I’ll start on Monday!” or “I’ll start the beginning of next month!” We give ourselves a grace period to continue a bad habit only to force ourselves to go cold turkey or we give ourselves time to grow fear & doubt. As the “magical” day approaches to start a new thing, do you build up a story around the event? Do you give yourself space to overthink or fill with dread?
But what if we dropped all our notions of time? What would happen if we freed ourselves from the shackles of a calendar? What if you thought about your objective and brought it into the present moment?
As humans conditioned on a calendar, we are always wanting for something to feel like a beginning. What if that beginning was this moment? Why not now? When it comes to your NY’s Resolutions, give yourself the promise that every day is a beginning. Every day is an opportunity to be present with your intention. Even if you break your resolution on January 2nd – you can start again January 3rd.
Sometimes our New Year’s Resolutions are big ones: quit smoking…lose weight…save more money…save the world. Those big, life changing goals are fantastic! But do you have a plan? Again, this comes down to goal making skills. No big thing is accomplished without all the little things you build as its foundation.
For example, many resolutions focus around being healthier or losing weight. Most goals like this have a couple major components. For weight loss it usually comes down to decreasing intake of unhealthy food, increasing intake of healthy food, and increasing physical activity. Have you thought deeply about your habits? General statements like “eat healthier” aren’t very helpful unless they’re specific. If you eat fast food, how much less are you going to eat fast food per week/month? If you want to eat more vegetables, how many vegetable dishes are you going to eat this week? If you want to start exercising more, which day of the week will you consistently do some activity? Three mini goals a week can be more manageable than one big ambiguous goal. Still feeling intimidated? Try one mini goal at a time. There are dozens of ways to make your goals work for you. Experiment – if something doesn’t work, try something else.
And please, please, please – be forgiving. Faltering once or a thousand times does not determine the failure of a goal. We are a culture of failure adverse creatures. We use the myth of “perfection” as an impossible standard for ourselves in everything we do. What if you dropped the story about being perfect? What would happen if you dropped the story that obtaining this goal is going to be easy, or so difficult you might not succeed? You might find that getting there is easier. You might find that your spirit is more willing to pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.
Most goals are really symptom fixers. It takes care of a problem that manifests from a deeper issue. We are also a culture that avoids confrontation with ourselves. When thinking about those major objectives for the coming year, ask yourself why. Ask yourself why, until you get down to the feelings and thoughts you know you’ve been avoiding. This is the real work of personal transformation. All the Weight Watchers in the world won’t work unless you work on the You underneath. If you’ve been thinking about your resolutions as a “I’ll be happy when…,” I’m sorry to tell you that you will not be happy “when.” Chasing happiness is a myth. It’s a myth created by advertising so you will buy stuff. The only thing you need to achieve happiness now is yourself. All the things we work on internally are to help us access that happiness more freely. You can be happy right now, without achieving a single goal on your list. Work on that first before anything else and the rest will fall in place if you trust in it.
The “Letting Go” Mindset
Unconsciously, people love the “New Years Resolution Mindset.” It allows them the superficiality to set up some ambitions, not really go for it, and brush it off when they no longer feel like doing it.
Letting go of the things that no longer serve us is a process. It takes real work and being honest with ourselves. You can accomplish everything you want to, but you have to surrender to the process. Most of the time that process is nothing like you expected. Let go of your expectations.
Here’s my guide to navigating your New Year’s Ambitions:
- Opportunity – Every day is an opportunity to be present, let go and make progress.
- Grace – Be graceful in the face of failure. These moments are your biggest teachers. Learn the lessons that come with them.
- Introspection Into Action – Ask yourself “why” often. Take the answers you find and use them as vehicles for transformation.
I look forward to the possibilities available to me in the coming year. I’m excited to share it with you and I hope you have a wonderful beginning to 2015!
Jackie Dalheimer of York, PA is one of my yoga teachers and mentors. Last week, her car was sideswiped by a U-Haul truck. Many people in this situation would lose their cool, but when Jackie met the woman driving the U-Haul it turned into an opportunity for a Christmas Miracle.
“Hope,” who was driving the U-Haul, had her five children with her and all their belongings in the truck after being evicted that morning. Jackie saw so much of herself in Hope. Jackie hearkened back to when she herself was a single mother and the grace it took to carry herself through those tough moments. She saw that same grace in Hope and the light of her five children. After Jackie and Hope piled all of Hope’s belongings into a storage unit, Hope looked at it all and said, “God has a plan for me. I know he does. It’s just hard to see what that is.”
Jackie knew God was speaking to her in that moment and that she & the community of York could help Hope’s family. Jackie set up a GoFundMe page and has raised over $7600 in four days and Christmas gifts are pouring in for Hope’s children. The call to action has been tremendous.
When interviewed for FOX43 News, Jackie said, ““If it takes a U-Haul for us to really wake up to the idea that we could choose to move from our sense of annoyance in life and see that people are in our way or we could really just take a stand and go ‘well you’re not my problem, you’re my solution.’”
This story has taught me that when something happens to us that seems negative, it is actually an opportunity for learning. It can be an opportunity to see the humanity in others and ourselves. We can take each of these “bad” moments in our lives and see the blessing that it can bring into our lives.
Please watch the interview below or check out the GoFundMe page to read more about Jackie and Hope’s. If you feel inspired by this story, please donate to help get Hope and her children into a new home by January 1st!
VIDEO: Help for “Hope” | WPMT FOX43