As you may have gathered from my recent posts, I am not very good at making New Year resolutions.
One reason is that I have an inherent dislike of saying something & then not carrying it through, or in some cases not being allowed to carry it through. I guess the phrase, “Do as you say” has had a strong influence on me since I was very young.
I’m also the kind of person who is very good at beating myself up when I fail to do something I’ve said I would. I’m left with a sense of having let people down even though they usually try to assure me that it isn’t a problem.
I think for our own integrity, it is not a bad thing to admit we’re wrong or have fallen short of our target. Without such occasions it is very difficult to appreciate how we need to change, make the change(s) & then move on.
BUT I also realise the dangers of being over-critical of ourself. All-too-easily we can construct such a straight jacket of self-expectation or fear of failure that we end up doing what we fear most; not being true to our word. We either become so afraid of trying that we don’t, or perhaps we don’t really try just in case we do achieve our target & in the process prove ourself wrong 🙂
So where does all of this fit in with New Year Resolutions?
Well, for me, making a resolution at New Year can be seen as short-term; something we do for now or perhaps something we undertake to prove something to ourself. They can be like New Year fireworks; beautiful, spectacular, encouraging or perhaps challenging but then fade as quickly as they appear.
Such short-term resolutions can also become chains that bind us: we try to change or achieve a goal but fail. At this point it can quickly change from being a resolution to a stick with which we beat ourself, often leaving us thinking either, “I’m not doing that again!” or “There’s no point in me thinking I can do that because I obviously can’t!“
I wonder whether that is because we make such a thing about making a New Year’s Resolution?
We think about each new year as an opportunity to do something new, change what we do, change how we react; perhaps even change who we are. We seem to set ourselves a target, almost as a one-off event & the effect of ‘failure’ seems to be all-the-more heightened if we don’t achieve it.
I am 100% behind setting realistic goals & achieving them in a timely manner but not as a one-off ‘for the sake of fulfilling a New Year promise.’
What would happen if we saw these resolutions as continuous, long-term goals that we tackle each & every day until we achieve them, rather than until we fail?
I wonder whether we would be a bit more merciful on ourselves: allowing personal failure but also allowing ourselves to continue trying (& continue failing if necessary) until we succeed, however long that takes (hours, days, weeks, months, years).
I’m not very good at New Year Resolutions because I need more time & a lot more patience with myself so that I can achieve the targets I set, even if it takes longer than I expect.
This approach works better for me because I feel motivated to do it for the right reasons (bringing about a longer-term change in myself) rather than just ticking a box on a list to say it’s been done (or perhaps even leaving the box un-ticked because I’m afraid to try again).
These are just a few personal observations which I find give me chance to achieve the reason for making a resolution in the first place: personal changes that benefit us & others.
I’m not against the idea of resolutions, just aware that I need to be careful how I approach achieving them, for my own sake & for the sake of those around me.
I would be very interested to hear your experiences & opinions.
Happy New Year for 2014 🙂
Until next time …