A Compassionate Guide to New Year’s Resolutions
By Lindsey Wellmaker
It’s officially 2019. The holiday celebrations have concluded –decorations are put away, loved ones have returned home, and the refrigerator is finally free of holiday leftovers. Many of us will begin to reflect on the past year (“how did I do?”) as well as the year that lies ahead (“how can I do better?”). It’s no surprise in this autonomous, individualistic culture that we eventually stumble upon “resolutions” –but what does this really mean? And how can we construct a resolution on a foundation of compassion and awareness? To me resolution means an opportunity to do something differently –to grow or change in some way. This can occur through a tangible goal or even a meaningful phrase, such as, “just do it.”
According to Dictionary.com…
Resolution: the act of … determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc. a decision or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose
What comes up when you read these words –decision, determination and firmness of purpose? –for me, these words are loaded with rigid expectations. The most common aspirations for resolutions include eating healthier, getting more exercise, and saving more money –and only 8% of people achieve their new year’s goals. So, what’s the missing ingredient that’s preventing long-term success? Are we setting goals too high, or are we not focusing on the steps to complete a goal? These questions alone make me want to check out and say, “what’s the point?”
This year I choose empathy to guide me though the planning and execution of my New Year’s resolution. I’d like to welcome and embrace the opportunity to make meaningful changes in my life; Welcoming 2019 with awareness and compassion, no longer dwelling on the outcomes and “should’s” of the new year. I invite you to do the same.
A Compassionate Guide to New Year’s Resolutions:
1. What’s the intention? This includes the personal meaning for why I want to make the change.
2. Awareness of progress. This includes setting clear goals, step-by-step, and keeping track of progress along the way. I recently heard someone say, “plan for plans, not for results.” When I plan for results (or the outcome), I’m cutting out an important step in the change-process –development! Each day/week/month I have an opportunity to reflect on progress made toward my overall resolution-goal.
3. Awareness of habits and risky tendencies –break the cycle. Through looking clearly at any/all obstacles to change, I keep things realistic, and make a tangible plan to counteract these behaviors/habits.
4. Be kind to yourself. Remember that we all are imperfect human beings who also can learn and evolve from our imperfection.
5. Other options –mantra or vision board. This can be a welcomed alternative to goal-setting resolutions. A mantra can stay with us throughout our days and weeks, as a reminder to come back to ourselves and our intent. A vision board offers an opportunity to visualize our hopes and dreams. Through creative freedom and visual manifestation, we may organically find what we want for ourselves in the upcoming year.