We’re almost a month into the new year, and a client of mine, “Nancy", who’d made her New Year’s resolutions prior to January 1st, was already starting to waiver. This may seem surprising to you, but just look at your local gym to see how widespread this phenomenon of falling off the resolution wagon actually is: the first week of January the gym is packed. Now, it’s half empty.
Making resolutions is a tricky business even with the best of efforts. Perhaps you’ve worded your desires slightly differently - you’ve come up with “goals” or set “intentions” or even created a vision board where you’ve envisioned your desires for the coming year. You may have a lot of fun coming up with what you think you want or you may find it a real struggle to articulate exactly what you want if you’re uncertain about your future.
There are several reasons why the resolution drop-off rate is as high as it is. For Nancy, when we looked at her resolutions, she realized she wasn’t clear about what goals were really right for her at this point in her life. In fact, some of the goals she declared contradicted what she valued now. She’d stated her resolutions as if she was still in her 30s because she assumed she was still motivated for the same reasons. She hadn’t realized how much she had changed and grown. Has this ever been the case for you?
It had been a long time since Nancy had stopped to identify the direction she wanted her life to go in, how she wanted to feel at the end of the day, the quality of the life she wanted to live. Most of the time she was carried along like a log in a swiftly moving river from the momentum of her personal and professional responsibilities. So, she found herself making practical, problem-solving decisions in order to meet the seemingly endless demands of her life. In the effort to get as much done as possible and be on top of what might come next, she had compromised the quality of the life she wanted to lead.
The contradiction in what she was doing and how she was feeling showed up in her growing dissatisfaction with the resolutions she had set for herself. When we examined this more closely, Nancy recognized that she’d been making the majority of her choices from her rational mind without including how she felt and how she wanted to live. Without knowing quite how it had happened, rather than having the direction of her life be determined by her values, she had let it be determined by the demands placed on her.
To Nancy’s relief, the proverbial light-bulb moment happened. She identified what was important and necessary for her to feel good about her life and let those newly-minted values set the direction for the year. She revised her resolutions so that they included the opportunity to engage more fully in the present moment where she could consciously embody the qualities most important to her: authenticity and genuineness. She re-designed her goals so that they kept her on track with the feelings and experiences she most wanted rather than simply a checklist of things to have or do.
So if you’re beginning to have trouble keeping your resolutions, a good way to find out why is to ask yourself, do my goals really reflect who I am now and what’s important to me? Give yourself space to let the light bulb moment happen for you, too, so you can re-orient yourself in the direction of your heart’s desire.
I'd love to hear about your experience in setting your New Year resolutions! Please post in the comments section below.