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December 1, 2015

New Year’s Resolutions Are BS

I used to be one of those people.

The ones with the half-done to-do lists.

The ones who watch another year tick by.

The ones who break their commitments to themselves, by way of crappy resolutions that go unresolved. The ones who flake out after one or two tries, who leave things half-done.

Every year was the same.

I would make new year’s resolutions and follow through on few, if any of them. It’s not that they were bad — they just weren’t anything that I was ever all that excited about, when it came down to actually having to, you know, do them. Wholly uninspiring. Because, as it turned out, they weren’t actually coming from my heart. They weren’t me.

At the same time, the projects that I did actually dream about weren’t happening either. Because guess what? I was too busy beating myself up for not keeping those promises. Vicious cycle, and, frankly, a pretty mean way of acting toward myself.


No wonder I didn’t follow through.

I’m guessing that I’m not alone here. If you’ve failed to follow through on a new year’s resolution, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a running joke. We begin the year with high hopes. And then we break most resolutions by the end of January.

The next December, we start all over.

It sucks.

We bemoan it. We make and break the same commitments year after year. But nothing seems to change. And if the resolutions themselves weren’t grounded in guilt and shame in the first place, how we feel when we break these promises to ourselves more than makes up for that.

So while it’s natural to heap more blame and guilt on top of the situation, I’m fairly certain that won’t do any good either. I don’t think it’s that the problem is with us — but I do believe that it’s up to us to shift this pattern. So what can we do?

First? Let’s admit that New Years resolutions are pretty much BS.

At least the way we’re making them now. Feel better already? Me too.

We need a new model. Seriously. If these resolutions aren’t serving you, scrap them. If they’re making you feel worse instead of better, get rid of them. If you’re making them from a space of “feeling bad” or “not enough”. If you think that this is what you ought to do with your coming year – then they are not serving you.

Look: you are powerful, smart, sensitive people.* It’s not as though you don’t know how to work hard or work toward your dreams. But as I’ve said before, you shouldn’t be treating yourself like crap. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Next? Let’s choose something else.

We have that power. Let’s claim it.

What would it feel like to keep promises to yourself? What would it be like to look at your schedule and feel delight, rather than dread? What might it take for you to feel sincere love for all of what you’ve committed to doing?

What if you decided what you do in 2016 with respect, with care, with a sense of sacredness?

Might it affect how those things are accomplished? How well they’re done? How you feel at the end of the day? At the end of the year?

(Spoiler alert: hell yes!)

So how do we make that real?

We can choose to take on fewer things to fill our lives, and do them with total commitment and complete kindness. We could choose a handful of life-priorities and follow those with all of our hearts. We could take guidance from quiet and guidance from less.

Saying no, crossing things off the list, pulling back from a commitment — that takes courage. But if you’re only doing what you’re doing because you think you “should”? Well, you’re short-changing yourself and whoever else you’ve made the commitment to.

If we’re being inspired by guilt or shame or “shoulds,” we’re bound to fail. Not because of lack of discipline or even a dearth of good intentions. We’ll fail because those guilt-based resolutions that we think we should be chasing?

Those garbage resolutions are actually keeping us from our best work – and for caring deeply for our inner world.

In the process, you will also end up beating yourself up — which isn’t cool.

So, let’s resolve to make a change. Let’s choose resolutions that light us up instead of cutting us down. We deserve better. Let’s choose less and devote ourselves to it with our whole spirits. Our lives, and our coming year, deserve this kind of soulfulness.

*This much I know for sure.

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