There’s a familiar topic in the media this time of year that usually sounds something like: “XX% of New Year’s Resolutions Broken by the End of January!”
Whatever the failure rate that’s quoted, the message is clear: We often struggle to keep our promises to ourselves.
It’s just a guess, but maybe that’s because our resolutions often begin and end with doing.
Lose weight, eat healthier, quit a bad habit or add a good one … our promises to ourselves can feel like just another item to check off an already very long list.
Very quickly, that resolution morphs into something akin to the stack of dirty dishes we notice in the sink just before going to bed. We sigh and think to ourselves, “Oh yeah – the dishes. Tomorrow … I’ll do that tomorrow.”
One more thing to do.
Don’t get me wrong. Resolutions to improve ourselves or our circumstances can hold tremendous personal value.
Perhaps our commitments might need to first be rooted more deeply in who we want to be
and what this will mean for our lives, before determining what we will do.
When a resolution rises out of a deeply compelling internal drive, I’d argue that it has a higher probability of success. Consider the below statements. What would most motivate you?
I want to learn how to build stronger relationships with my team.
I want to be a leader people trust and believe in.
I need to address my work-life balance so my family doesn’t kill me!
I want to be a spouse/parent who is present and engaged with my family.
I should take a yoga class.
I want to feel healthy and strong so I can experience and enjoy more of life.
Because most humans resist change, we have to want, maybe even need, something very intensely to incorporate a new habit.
The target must hold significant meaning for us if we’re to adopt
a new way of thinking, speaking, or behaving
… or to give up our status quo.
It can be helpful to look backwards before charting the way forward. The end or start of any year is a natural time for this reflection to occur.
If you were to look back over 2016, examining your own personal “Highlights Reel,” you would probably find instances that proved deeply satisfying. Events, relationships, achievements, learning … take a moment to identify yours and explore what you learned from them and why they hold meaning for you.
This reflection may surface ideas for your personal evolution that will generate greater satisfaction and success (however you define it). Let that guide your resolution.
Of course, we all have a “Lowlights Reel,” too. These reflections may give you pause. You may not want to spend much time here. I believe we should spend at least as much time pondering these events as we do the highlights – given that people tend to grow more from challenge and adversity than we do from success and achievement.
Honestly assess who you were being, what you did or said (or didn’t do or say), then consider how that may have allowed, contributed to or caused these lowlights. How would you show up differently if you had a Groundhog Day opportunity?
By examining ourselves through this lens, we can do more than simply let go and move forward.
We can recommit to being the person we deeply want to be and set a resolution to practice being, saying and doing that which is aligned to our commitment – aligned to the integrity of who we are and who we seek to be. This enables transformation.
Notice, I said practice. Contrary to popular belief, practice is NOT perfect. There is no such thing when it comes to the evolution of self.
Whether you set a 2017 resolution and are on track or disappointed with your progress, or whether you never set resolutions at all but are interested in making a meaningful investment in yourself this year, reflect on your Highlights & Lowlights Reel of 2016 and see what aspirations strike.
Ground your resolutions and action plans directly to the vision you have for yourself – who you want to be by the end of this year and how you want to feel about yourself and your experience of life. I’m willing to bet you’ll cover more ground this way than by tackling a To Do list.
If you take this on, I’d love to hear from you on the results you produce!
Here’s to your growth!