Why New Year’s resolutions fail – and how you can cultivate lasting change
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago because they never seemed to amount to anything. The most frequent resolution for me was to get back into shape or lose weight. But when we make resolutions to make big, drastic changes in our lives – we set ourselves up for failure. Humans resist change. It ain’t pretty but it is true. In order to affect true, sustainable change – we need a different plan of attack.
Over the last twenty years, I have gradually made small changes in my life to both lose weight and get into shape. The real results came from small changes over time and by gradually crowding out bad habits with better behaviors.
Each of these changes has come around the new year and is the result of a process that is in tune with the cycle of the earth in the northern hemisphere, particularly the part that gets real winter each year.
As the days shorten this time of year and we approach the winter solstice, we have more time for reflection. Christians celebrate Advent, a time of preparing for the arrival of the Christ child or new life. Other religions have similar beliefs and we are now in the time of the crone for the Celtic pagans awaiting rebirth in early February.
Woven into these traditions is time for reflection on how we have lived. As a coach, I always want to know what’s working and what’s not with my clients and I apply the same thing each year for myself. In fact, that is what I started working on in early November with my own coach.
Things I Have Changed
A few years ago, I realized that my attempt to find a late-life career in photography was too non-social and was not meeting my needs. I spent a few months reading and researching, with the intention of finding a new path. I had no idea of where that path would lead, but in my studies, I read The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, discovered the PSYCH-K process, and realized that I needed to become a professional coach from the feedback of others in the workshops. I trained for it and launched my practice when I completed my training.
The following year, I read Wheat Belly after listening to Wayne Dyer reference the book. I discovered that I was probably allergic to the changes in modern wheat. After eliminating it from my diet, I lost inches of belly fat that has never returned. Four years later – I am grateful for the major reduction in inflammation in my joints.
Three years ago, at this time of year, I discovered that dairy products were something that also produced inflammation in my body. I came across information that baby’s given milk before the age of two (like I was) often develop an allergy to the protein in milk (casein) and become inflamed and congested from consuming it. I have gone from up to twelve sinus infections per year to two over the last three years – which I credit to the removal of processed dairy from my diet.
Reflect -> Intent
All of these resolutions were made from reflection and intention. When I decided to become a coach, my intention was -and still is- to give back to others from the gifts that I have been given. It is an act of acceptance of those gifts and the intent to use them well. I suspect that I might never “get rich” from the venture, but I am making a difference in people’s lives, which fulfills my own personal sense of purpose.
The lifestyle changes were made with the intention of being healthy so I am not a burden to my children as I age. I want to be as healthy as I can be for as long as possible. Through this – I can continue to contribute and not become unnecessarily dependent on others. We cannot control the outcome, but we can set the intention to be as healthy and as contributing as possible.
This is a great time of the year to reflect. To go into stillness and quietly ask, “Who am I?” “What do I want?” “How can I contribute?” And then set some intentions for the time of the year when we have more daylight and more energy.
For thirty minutes each day turn off the TV. Stop tweeting. Stop pinning pictures to Pinterest. Spend some time with yourself. Figure out what is working well and what is not. Read a book that strikes your fancy.
And then in the stillness of the winter set one intention for next year. But do it from a place of gratitude and a feeling of abundance for all that you have.
As we age it is easy to tune into what we no longer have. For me – it is great eyesight, tremendous drive, and business success, the ability to eat anything I want, sleeping through the night and so on. Tune into what replaced those things you miss. Wisdom, trust in my intuition and experience, acceptance of others, and the willingness to not so desperately struggle for the last word. Most importantly, it is my ability to shut off my monkey mind and just be still.
Be Still Like Broccoli
In the movie, Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts’ character says to the busy executive (Richard Gear) after she takes his cell phone out of his hand, “be still like Broccoli”. In 1991, I could not relate to this wisdom. That was my loss at that point in my life. Today, I can be still and be with myself.
This year, how about you? Are you willing to be still like broccoli and find one thing to change in your life?
Image Credit – Adobestock