Well, here I am, in the nick of time, I hope, to save your ass from the disappointment of New Year’s resolutions. You and I both know all too well how doomed they are to the awful cycle of hope, frustration, disappointment, failure, and either self-loathing or general WTF.
Let me tell you why they fail and what the terrific alternative is.
New Year’s resolutions fail because of what they actually are. They are us resolving to do something we don’t really want to do. We want to lose weight, but we don’t want to stop eating the way we want to eat. We want to get in shape, but we don’t really want to go to the gym and exercise (or climb on that treadmill that’s been sitting in the corner for oh so long.
That’s why we “resolve” to do them! Determination will see us through. This time. And determination means will power, which means—let’s face it—our being a different person from who we really are. If you’d wanted to diet, you’d be doing it already!
So why not hitch a ride on will power? The research is clear: will power will see you through the way a nice picnic basket will see you through a trek across the Sahara. Will power is like a set of muscles that won’t let you lift 100 pounds over your head more than three times, no matter how much will power you exert. We can’t will ourselves to be stronger than we are.
Now it’s true that will power plus a lot of the right kinds of support can make a big difference. But we rarely have that kind of all-enveloping, accountability-forcing, be-there-when-you-need-it support. Of course there are tons of folks eager to sell you their version of support. The weekly Weight Watchers meetings. The open-24-hours-a-day gyms. But if they really worked, we wouldn’t be as fat and out of shape as we are. Or as whatever it is that we are that we don’t want to be but don’t really want to do anything about.
So I beg you. Don’t set yourself up for failure yet one more time.
Here’s the alternative. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions,
give yourself New Year’s permissions.
It ain’t all that hard.
Ask yourself, What do I want? What do I like? What do I care about? What’s been missing from my life that I want more of? What’s been sticking around in my life that I want to get rid of?
The key words here are “want,” “like,” and “care about.”
Then once you can focus in on one or two things you really want, give yourself permission to do them this year. Give yourself the gift of a year (the title of a book of ours which may be just what you need right now!), in which you make happen the deepest-down things you want. NOT the things you think you should want. But the things you really want. “Really want” as in the sense that we always do the things we really want, if we give ourselves permission to.
And you can see where this is going. Giving yourself permission means saying no to someone or something that you want to say no to. It’s only guilt, habit, or obligation that have been holding you back. You don’t want those things, but you’ve been saying yes to them instead of saying yes to what you really do want.
This will transform your relationship with yourself. You’ll get real evidence that you can take care of yourself. That you can make happen the things you care about. That you can trust yourself.
If you want it, and you give yourself permission to do it, it will happen. You’ll be so happy.