Another year is upon us. This offers an excuse — not that I need one — to reflect upon what I have accomplished over the last year and what I hope to accomplish over the coming year. For many of us it has become a requirement at the year's start to create resolutions. However, it dawned on me that resolutions tend to be judgmental. By definition a resolution is a decision to fix something, or to take an action toward solving a problem. I'm curious then if the exercise of crafting resolutions actually contributes to the failure of those resolutions.
I was going to write a full post about resistance this week but felt I should address resolutions as the new year begins. As I sit in Starbucks writing, I'm realizing resistance and resolutions are intertwined. Carl Jung stated, "what you resist persists." Resisting our shadow side, he found, actually causes it to grow. If you believe such, then reinforcing bad habits, or fueling dissatisfaction with ourselves, through the judgmental context of resolutions may be creating our failure and recycling of these very resolutions. Resolutions tend to include adverbs such as less or more. "I wish to do X less. I want to Y more." Framing them in this context of lacking, in essence stating that we are not enough as we are and that there exists a necessity of change, may be creating an environment for our poor habits to grow.
The majority of us adopt, or wish to adopt, similar resolutions. The list tends to include eating better, exercising more, enjoying life more, connecting with others more and improving our relationships, and spending less money to save more. These resolutions have been fairly consistent for years, suggesting that we are indeed failing, or perceiving we are failing. It seems we collectively recycle and recommit to the same resolutions each year with the hope that this will be the year in which we find success.
“What you resist persists.” — Carl Jung
How do we find this seemingly elusive success? How can we reframe resolutions to incite us into action and reinforce better habits without prescribing to a belief that change is a requirement of a content and full life? Isn't that what's behind the majority of our resolutions? If I achieve more and partake less I'll live a more content and happier life.
I'm not certain I have the answer. I'm here to pose questions — to myself, to you. I can start by reframing the goals I mentioned last week; writing more and eating better. Those renewed intentions stemmed from a lack of writing and eating habits that slipped. I realize that framing them in such a way in which I label myself as failing at writing and failing at eating well only causes me to continue eating poorly and procrastinating when it comes to writing. Perhaps if I adopt a belief that I am writing well and enough, I'll write more as I re-enforce a positive perception of myself as a writer. If I apply the same principle focusing my attention on the good foods I am eating, rather than punishment for the bad, perhaps the eating well enough will be what persists.
Rather than resolutions, rather than intentions, I could try creating a list of simply being.
My initial list looking like this:
- Eat better, stop consuming sugar.
- Write more.
- Travel more.
- Read more.
- Exercise more and run X miles this year.
Now looks something like this:"I am..."
- Eating well — enough. Enjoy wholesome foods and reaffirm my commitment to wellness when I eat optimally. View the less than optimal food consumption as opportunity to question my motives for doing so, but without judgement.
- Writing. Accept fully that I am a writer and commend myself each time I sit and put words to paper. Feel the joy of creating when in the act of doing such.
- Living as a humble adventurer.
- Fueling my curious nature through a rekindled love of reading.
- Living essentially.
What does your list look like?