To resolve, or not to resolve?
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Over the past week, many clients have asked me how I feel about New Year's Resolutions. I personally haven't made them for a few years now, but my feeling is that if you feel drawn to doing them, do them! If not, don’t. No one should feel obligated to do them just because it's the "thing" everyone else does in January. But if you are someone who felt inspired to set some resolutions for the new year, here are a couple of questions to reflect on that I’ve noticed help people have more success with not just their resolutions, but their goals in general:
1. Do you actually want to do it?
This might seem like a “duh” thing to say, but you'd be surprised how many people set resolutions for things they actually don’t want to do, but for some reason feel they “should” or are “supposed” to do!
I don’t know about you, but no amount of willpower or effort has gotten me to do things I really didn’t want to do. And while willpower might get you off the couch, it's not a sustainable, long-term strategy and you generally ended up exhausted and right back where you started.
So ask yourself, “Do I actually want to do this, or am I just thinking I’m supposed to?” If yes, great! If not, that’s okay, too. If you don't want to, you don't have to. You might want to instead consider doing things you actually feel drawn to doing. I've personally found that with things that come from genuine desire, it never feels like effort or work to do them, and I don't really need to motivate myself to take action on them.
2. Is it “clean”?
And no, I don't mean, is the resolution for "mature audiences" or not? 😂 What I mean is, do you have anything “on” getting it? Many people create goals and resolutions from a space of "I'll be happy when...". Perhaps they think that if they lose weight, exercise more, meditate more, make or save more money, worry less, have more career success, etc. that then they will finally be okay/worthy/happy. In truth, what they're looking for in those instances isn't actually achieving the goal. What they're actually chasing is who they think they will be or what they think they will feel when they achieve it.
In my experience, these types of goals set up a toxic hamster wheel where one of two things happens:
a) People hustle and struggle without achieving the goal, ultimately leading to exhaustion, shame, and discouragement.
b) They eventually accomplish the goal and then wonder why they are still feeling empty or unhappy. So they figure "that must not have been it" and set more toxic goals that seem even bigger and "better".
The "I'll be happy when..." type resolution is particularly toxic because it reinforces a sense of lack and the popular narrative in society that there's always somewhere to get. At its core, this is simply an innocent and fundamental misunderstanding of where happiness and wellbeing come from. What most people don't realize while on the wild goose chase is that happiness and wellbeing aren't something you achieve or acquire; they're something that you notice have been there all along the moment you stop chasing them.
If you’ve got an "I'll be happy when..." type of goal in mind, I'd invite you to be open to the possibility that there’s nothing you need to do to complete or fix you, because you’re already okay.
One question I still use to check in with myself is, “Will I be excited if I accomplish it, but perfectly okay if I don’t?” If you're up for it, try that question on for yourself. If the answer is a genuine "yes", then jump in, explore, follow your inclinations, and see what happens! If the answer is "no", then perhaps take a look at what you're really looking to get from achieving it - happiness, worthiness, approval, etc. - and get curious to look within and see if what you're searching for, you already are?
Another way to explore this is to ask yourself, "Does this resolution feel light and playful, or heavy and serious?" Your answer will be a good clue as to what space it's coming from.
When I saw for myself that we're all already well and whole, I stopped doing things I thought I "should" or "needed" to do, and I started doing many more things I wanted to do. I did things because they seemed cool and I felt drawn to doing them - not out of a need to fill a void or otherwise make me complete. My goals started to feel like a natural expression of the aliveness within me. And I was able to accomplish much more with significantly less effort - including things that were never even on my radar before.
So if you feel like resolutions are for the birds, that's cool. Like I said, I haven't made resolutions for years, and I think my life has turned out okay! But if you feel drawn to make some resolutions this year, I'd encourage you to get real and get clean with them.
When you're coming from that space of want versus need, you'll be much more open to the inner wisdom within you that will show up and have your back every step of the way. And from that space, the possibilities are endless.
Have fun, and Happy New Year!
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