How to Make New Year's Resolutions You Can Stick With
A Different Perspective on Setting Goals
It's that time of year again. The time of year when our mind turns inward toward ourselves and begins to examine our faults, unfulfilled expectations, and imperfect lives. It's the time of year when we long for a fresh start, set goals to help us achieve what we feel is lacking in our lives, and even commit to solid New Year's Resolutions.
Within the resolution process, we find hope in the promise that we can free ourselves from our past errors and mistakes, make the necessary course correction by using our willpower and desire to succeed, and become determined to let go of everything in our lives that we don't like.
From the instant that the clock strikes 2014, we will dedicate the rest of our lives to fulfilling our ambitions. We will vow to keep a positive outlook, no matter how difficult our goals might seem, and we will refuse to allow failure to poke its head into that equation. On January 1st, failure is not an option for us.
And yet, statistics show that only 8 percent of those who set New Year's Resolutions actually make it all the way to the end of the year and cross the finish line. Despite our good intentions and strong desire to change, we usually don't make it. We usually fall down and skin our knees within the first six months.
Making New Year's Resolutions
Is This You?
But it doesn't have to be that way.
You don't have to be among those who lose sight of what they want and fall by the wayside. You can succeed. You can change. You can find the willpower to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. But to do that, you have to understand what willpower is, where you can find it, and most importantly, how to use it appropriately.
To help you find your way through the mists of self improvement, here are 3 powerful tips for making New Year's Resolutions you can actually stick with.
Willpower is a By-Product of Self Awareness
If you think that willpower is just going to show up on your doorstep and help you whenever you're faced with the temptation to deviate from your goals, you're greatly mistaken. Setting goals, or having an aim to shoot for, is a good plan but that doesn't mean that willpower has to cooperate. In fact, most people don't have any willpower. They just think that they do. They believe that they are in control of their choices, in control of their actions, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that many people just react to what happens to them without taking the time to think about it. Someone punches their buttons, and they are off and running toward their arsenal of whining and complaining, demanding that others give them what they feel they are entitled to, or they sit around blaming everyone and everything for the way their life is going. Temptation surfaces, and they completely forget about what they said they wanted.
Others more intellectually inclined might find more sophisticated ways of complaining and blaming, but not before they have used up their own arsenal of self-made rules, following those they consider to be authoritative, and implementing a wide variety of self-improvement programs that just don't work. If you're like most folks, that means:
- weight-loss programs
- debt-reduction schemes
- an effort toward becoming more organized
- saving more money
- improving your relationships with others
- or trying to overcome your faults
But without self-awareness, without a strong inner purpose in your life, events, people, and circumstances will always interfere with what you are trying to accomplish. And if your energy reserves are low or you have forgotten what you wanted to DO, you'll cave into temptation before you even realize what you've done. You'll wake up several minutes, days, or even years later wondering WHY you did that. WHY did you let go of your goals?
New Year's Resolution Tip 1: Increase Your Self-Awareness
Most people create goals that focus on what they believe they ought to DO, rather than on what they want to BE. That's a major mistake because our ability to act with mindfulness and conscious intent is totally dependent on who and what we currently are. The first step in our ability to change must come from within, not from without.
Instead of focusing on outward goals -- diet, exercise, debt, saving money, or cutting out excesses -- all of the things that we believe are wrong with us and will make us happier individuals if we correct, think about the type of person you want to be. Bad habits, a careless attitude about money, a craving for sweets or carbohydrates, laziness, and chasing after thoughtless pursuits at the expense of family and friends, are all by-products of what we are, what we believe, and what we find valuable.
The heart of change always comes down to value.
We do what we find valuable and worthwhile. We ignore or reject everything that we do not. So the first step is always to become more self aware. What do you really want in life? What do you really want to be? Without giving those questions serious thought and allowing the answers to come to the surface of our awareness, any attempt at change is bound to fall short of our ultimate goal.
Willpower is an Act of Creation
Once you know what you want to be, only then will it be profitable to go looking for the substance we call willpower. Until then, our will won't have any power. There won't be a healthy, driving force behind all that we do until we cast out our old motivations and create a new purpose that aligns with who we want to be.
It's purpose that drives our conscious actions. Purpose that helps us decide what to do during each and every moment of our lives. So if we're functioning from an old, warn out, tattered purpose we created in our childhood, for example, a purpose that no longer works for us today, we won't get the results we want until we create something new. We won't be able to accomplish our dreams until we have a mental system that works for us. Something that will help us become what we want to become.
Many people believe willpower is a force driven by emotion and strong desire. So if we can't stick to our resolutions, it's because our human nature entices us to always take the easy path, the path of less resistance. The path that makes New Year's Resolutions extremely difficult to maintain. While it's true that change is always rocky and uncomfortable, change doesn't come from using the strong arm of force. You can't bully your way to change.
That's because true change comes from the mind.
And so does the willpower we need to see our path more clearly. Willpower isn't about forcing ourselves to make the changes that others want us to make. It's about making up our mind to be ourselves. Our True Self. It's about using our mental energy to accomplish whatever it is we set out to do, rather than wasting it on useless thoughts and suggestions from our environment that are not important. It's about being true to our self and letting everything else go.
New Year's Resolution Tip 2: Make Your Goals Important
Will power is mental energy. It's energy that is fueled by the body for the purpose of creation. In this case, creation would be a result of whatever you have decided is important and valuable to do for yourself or others. Once importance and value has been attached to what you want to do, and you have a clear purpose in mind, that goal or aim is fueled by willpower. In order to keep willpower strong, you have to maintain the importance and value attached to the result you want to accomplish.
That takes self-awareness and a clear purpose for what you are doing.
For example, if you decide that you want to eliminate most processed foods from your diet and move to an eating style that incorporates mostly natural and organic foods, there has to be a solid reason and sense of importance and value for doing it that is much stronger than vanity. While everyone always does whatever they feel is right, proper, or justified at any given moment, value has to be maintained in order to avoid justification further down the path for dumping the goal you've decided to make today.
That takes a strong mental attitude, but it also requires you to accept your present limitations. Willpower isn't necessarily limitless. And it's easy to lie to ourselves about what we really want. For that reason, superficial goals won't take us very far. They have to actually mean something to you. They have to be vitally important. If they aren't, something else will come into play in a few days, weeks, or months that will be so important it will uproot everything you have accomplished so far.
If you're new to mindfulness and have been living for quite some time beneath an outdated purpose, it's wise to limit your New Year's Resolution to the ONE THING that is most important to you today.
Using Willpower Appropriately
The new year often ushers in a strong need to turn over a new leaf. That urge to change is fueled by marketing, the self-help industry, talks and articles on positive thinking, diet books and forums, and other self-help strategies that appeal to our desire for self improvement. But most of these self-help dogmas are a result of circular thinking.
The self-help industry thrives on our failure to accomplish the goals that they suggest we should be seeking after if we want to improve our lives and be happy.
The reasons for failure vary, but if you take a step back and listen to what most of these people, authors, and industries are saying, the failure we often experience is always because we didn't do more. We didn't do something right.
- We weren't positive enough.
- We didn't follow the program correctly.
- We should have tried harder.
- We should have paid more attention to the details.
- We shouldn't have given up hope.
None of that is true, of course. These ideas simply keep us coming back to their program in order to start over. It keeps us going in a circle. We start, we fail, we analyze ourselves, and then we start over again. Nothing changes because nothing is different. We are using someone else's self-help program. And while it might have worked well for them, and maybe even for some of their followers, that doesn't mean it will work for us.
Why? Because our purpose in life might not be the same. Our purpose in life might be quite contrary to the principles and ideas presented to us in the form of a self-improvement program. And the program itself might just be a hidden form of mind control that our true essence is wise enough to reject, even if our present conscious mind doesn't understand that.
New Year's Resolution Tip 3: Stay Aware of Temptations and Make Mental Adjustments
One of the reasons why self-awareness is so important in the process of reaching our aims and goals is because we have to stay alert and watch for the various forms of temptations that have been specially designed to throw us off track. If we aren't watching for them to pop up in ourselves, we won't necessarily discern them, and will end up reacting to their presence in a way that is contrary to what we want.
Big Business thrives on manipulating us into believing that we are ugly, weak, too fat, and too stupid to know what is best for us. They tell us what to eat, what to drive, where to live, what to put on, and where to go if we want to be among the "in" crowd. They send us flying in a dozen different directions at once by using threats of future doom or rejection if we don't listen to them and do exactly as we are told. Buy this. Buy that. Or you'll be sorry.
Listening to them boosts their profits and turns us into slave labor.
All of their junk clogs up our mind. It distracts us from our true goals. It takes up valuable space in our energy centers and leaves us depleted of the willpower we need to accomplish our goals. It robs us of our state of being by turning us into robots. We become weak, enslaved, programmed, and mindless individuals who obey what we are told to do instead of being honest to our True Nature.
Instead of following our dreams, we follow someone else's dreams, because we are too weak to create our own. We are so full of other people's stuff that's it's almost impossible to make conscious choices for ourselves. Choices that are useful to us, rather than them.
The KEY is distraction. That requires self-awareness, a strong sense of purpose, and a willingness to shut out and turn from everything that doesn't help us to fulfill our goals and dreams. That requires us to get the temptation out of our mind in any way that we can as soon as someone tries to plant it there. That holds true rather it comes from inside ourselves, a product of our own thoughts and imagination, or from someone in our environment.
Yes, that blackberry pie looks delicious sitting there on the table, but if our goal is carbohydrate restriction, then we can consciously supplant that image in our mind with something much more vile and less attractive. We can remember what the physical symptoms or outcome of eating it might be, such as that which I would experience were I to eat something that contains gluten, and thereby remain strong and determined to do only that which is valuable for us.
You can also ignore all of the suggestions offered by the media, diet books, and self-help industry that say you are not okay the way you are and need to live up their standard of being. The only standard is your own, the person you want to become.
Control the Light of Your Attention
Trying to live up to someone else's standard doesn't work. Not only because it furthers someone else's goals but because the goals of others are often loaded with contradictions. Contradictions only cloud our ability to discern between helpful and non-helpful ideas. While it's always wise to have a solid foundation upon which to build, to bear fruit, that foundation needs to come from our own essence, our own desires, not from the dreams and ideals of others.
The only sure way to keep your New Year's Resolution is to keep what you want to become uppermost in your mind. Keep your mind strongly focused on what you want to accomplish, without any outside interference. That takes self-awareness, a strong purpose, and the ability to keep your mind uncluttered with the unimportant things of life. If you can remember to do that, willpower will not be as elusive as it now seems. In fact, it will become a beacon of light to guide you, rather than an enemy.