"I believe that we make resolutions because we deeply desire to fulfill our potential."
~ Julia Cameron, "The Artist's Way"
It's that time of year again – time for reflection and resolutions. It can be a great thing to look at how things are going, see what we want to do different and set an intention to make changes moving forward. I love the “fresh start” that a new year gives, the blank slate, the do-over. Even though we know that we can start fresh any day, at any moment, something about that shift in the calendar makes it easier, more purposeful.
New years can also be a downer. A time when I look back at the things I wanted to do (much of which I didn't) and groan. It's so easy to get caught focusing on what didn't work. So many of us are "fixers" that it's hard not to go there. The truth is that even though fixing something seems like a good thing, it comes from a place of judgment. Focusing on the fact that something is bad, or wrong, can be stress producing, and that "fix it" mindset can actually can get in our way and make it more difficult to be successful.
Many people don't bother to do resolutions. Some because they love their lives and where they are; many have given up, or have been so unsuccessful in the past that they don't want to try. The fact is, most of us abandon our New Year's resolutions within a few months of a new year. In fact, about 67% of us make 3 or more resolutions each year, but only 20% of those are able to keep them for any significant length of time.
Resolutions Without Foundation Don't Work
The reason that resolutions don't work for many of us is that they lack a foundation. It seems simple to just make a change – I intend to do it so I'll just do it. Well if that were the case, then change wouldn't be so difficult and feared. When you pull it apart, there are (at least) three levels of change:
- Intention: Deciding to make a change, and committing to make it happen. This is the easy part!
- Practical: What will it take to make it happen? What structure and process do you need to engage? If you intend to go to the gym 3 times a week, but are afraid you can't afford the gym membership, or don't have childcare, you aren't likely to go.
- Energy: How you attach yourself to the change. What underlying thoughts and feelings do you have about the change? What lies beneath your desire? Again, if you feel like you want to make a change because something is “bad” or needs to be “fixed,” it can be more difficult to make the change. Is your resolution something you are choosing, or something you feel you have to do? Studies have shown that when we see change as a choice, we are more likely to be successful.
So what is an effective way to handle moving into this year and setting yourself up for success? Let's use one of my favorite reminders from "The Passion Test" by Janet and Chris Attwood.
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Passion Test: Intention | Attention | No Tension
- Intention: Spend some time reflecting on what you want for yourself and your family this year. This can help you create a personalized intention for the coming year.
- Attention: Make a commitment to take some new action and get some support for yourself as you ride this ADD/ADHD/Complex Kid parenting rollercoaster. You know we're always happy to provide support, so maybe it's time to sign up for a Sanity Session to talk with us, or check out Sanity School for a terrific online training program.
- No Tension: Put self-care back at the top of your list – make this the year of you! We all know that we have more energy to help our kids when we take care of ourselves first, but typically that's not how our priorities work out. Make a promise to yourself, one small change, something that will help this year run more smoothly and gracefully than you ever imagined.
Many blessings for an abundant and joy-filled year!