SATURDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS: What is it About New Year’s Resolutions?
New Year’s Resolutions
“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
– Mark Twain
What is it about New Year’s Resolutions?
I guess, maybe, ironically, we create this entrapment to feel good about ourselves. You know, “This time…and, I really mean it!” kind of self-righteous-good. The time when we look in the mirror, stand a little taller, stare the stare of determination and raise one arm followed by a series of quick little fist pumps.
“There, I did it, I made my resolutions! What a good boy am I!”
“…now, let’s get back to life and living.”
Why is it that I don’t have to make an annual commitment to take long walks in the woods, love my family, watch more movies at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, enjoy a glass of red wine, buy the latest new toy at the Apple store, or eat more peanut butter?
Hey, maybe, just maybe, it’s because I anticipate and look forward to the payoff. In the moment—at least to the person doing it—all behavior is considered good, it scratches a self-interest itch. And, as long as the actions don’t hurt innocent bystanders, that’s okay.
- I love the woods; the smells, solitude, insights, critters, and the random questions and answers that suddenly appear tucked inside the sounds of crunching snow and snapping twigs.
- I love my family beyond words. My feelings are spiritual, sacred, unbounded and absolute.
- I look forward to the thought-provoking films shown on campus and the lively discussions/debates served afterward as a side-dish at the Red Hawk.
- I enjoy sharing a bottle or two of rich, velvety, red wine with friends who are never guests.
- I love the little-boy-at-Christmas feeling that comes when I take a new Apple product out of the package.
- I like peanut butter; I just do, always have…always will.
I guess what I’m saying is that It isn’t the woods…it’s the treasures I find in the woods. It isn’t an obligatory sense of family strangled by “shoulds” … it’s a humbling, revered, fulfillment of “wants” and “needs.” It isn’t the Michigan Theater…it’s the intellectual challenge and passionate conversation it spawns. It isn’t the wine…it’s the uncorked flow of friendship. It’s not the computer, touchpad, speakers, wireless keyboard, tablet, or phone…it’s the promise of discovery, creativity, and adventure that shakes my bones and lifts my spirit. And, it isn’t the peanut butter…it’s the taste in the jar!
Shakes my bones and lifts my spirit…shakes my bones and lifts my spirit.
Maybe, just maybe, that’s it! Perhaps our annual Brick-Laying-Party-to-Hades renews because we focus on the path to personal rewards and not the personal rewards, themselves. By the way, I’m talking about your rewards, not your mom’s, partner’s, or Oprah’s. Seek passionate change that takes you to a state where your bones shake and your spirit soars!
Reframe and repackage your resolutions. Losing weight is not the goal…the goal is freedom from emotional and physical discomfort coupled with new options and opportunities. Exercise is not the goal…the goals are energy, self-confidence and, in some cases, social interaction and athletic accomplishment. Quitting smoking is not the goal…the goal is a long, healthy life of engagement with friends and family. Cutting back on the booze is not the goal…the goals are clear thinking, dignity, and self-respect. Getting out of debt is not the goal…the goals are sleeping well at night, economic freedom, pride, and self-reliance.
Take a close look at the resolutions you’ve made for 2012. Ask yourself, “Who am I making this resolution for?” “Beyond, the science of life, how does the resolution advance my art of living?”
The mechanics of behavior change are relatively easy and well defined. I can show you the color templates. However, personal passion and personal motivation—not as easy to define and kick-in-gear—are the keys to sustained, meaningful change. Focus on “Why?” and “So What?” These questions tap into your passion. If the resolution doesn’t pass the bones-shaking and spirit-lifting test, odds are you’re focusing on the process, not the true goal, and, maybe—just maybe—you are channeling someone else’s desire for you to change.
Watch for more about discovering your passion and cultivating your motivation in a future edition of “Saturday Morning Reflections.”
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”
– Helen Keller
Well said! The goal setting process needs better definition. It is not “to have my hip replaced” – it is, “to be able to go shopping with my daughters again and make sure I can run with my grandchildren one day” – when said from a place of emotion, from the core….the accomplishment seems spurred on with great gusto. In my case, it is all about my children. “To have good health long into the future” translates to “to not become a burden on my children”. Ahhh….so much easier. I know I need to redirect some of that goal setting to more “inner me” – but for now, it is my highest motivator and yes, cooking rather than eating out so much is easier when the greater goal is at hand. Nice to read your blog – be well….Nancy
Great contribution, Nancy. The shift in emphasis from intellectual agreement and mechanical process (necessary) to visceral engagement (critical) must occur if “Change” is to move from a dizzy cycle of stutter-starts and failures to one of embraced assimilation and sustained lifestyle. Yes, patient engagement is the key…the “Holy Grail” of wellness…but without a deeply personal response to “Why?” and “So What?” recidivism and intermittent (or zero) compliance are likely outcomes.