3 Things To Avoid When Setting New Year Resolutions


I love this time of year—it's the perfect opportunity to let go and re-set. Of course, most of us associate “resolutions” with the New Year, and for a lot of people, resolutions have a bad connotation. They see them as an opportunity for failure instead of success. If that sounds familiar, let me help you reframe the way you view resolutions with these three attitude-altering tips:  

1. Avoid starting with a to-do list. Get clear on how you want to FEEL and BE instead.
My resolutions are usually not actions; they’re the resulting sensation of my actions.  For a lot of people, resolutions begin and end with what they want to do—with no consideration for the quality of experience they want to have. For example, you make a resolution to “go to the gym three times a week” without focusing on why you want to go and how you want to feel. I call that a recipe for disappointment if not disaster. Let’s face it, feeling obligated to go to the gym just because you said so is a sure set-up for failure. 

But, by starting with the qualities you want to feel—such as, more energized and vital—rather than the activity itself, you easily turn an obligation into a choice that has a higher purpose. Which, in turn, allows you to open up to any number of creative ways to fulfill your intention throughout the new year, ultimately resulting in the feeling of taking care of yourself…and success! Maybe you end up going to the gym, maybe you drink more green juice, or maybe you take more time for rest. 

Now know that I'm not dismissing the value of setting specific goals (you know I like my SMART goals). I am merely recommending that you start with the quality of experience you want to achieve. For me, one quality I'm bringing into 2014 is soul-nurturing fun. As you can see from the photo above, I got started early :). Other examples of qualities include: patience, excellence, gratitude, focus, ease, playfulness, etc.  

2. Avoid "should-ing" all over yourself.
It's so easy to fall into the trap of, “I shoulds.” Oh, I should be more this or do more that this year. Know what I mean? It’s a not-so-subtle way of self-criticism. So before committing to anything, first try it out in your imagination. Ask yourself, if I experienced just 2% more (fill in the blank), how would I feel? Pay close attention to how your body and spirit respond. What would be different? Does it make you feel dragged down, freed up or nothing much at all? 
To avoid a continuing case of the “I shoulds,” go with what makes you feel lighter, freer, energized and hopeful. Choosing what feels difficult doesn't necessarily make you stronger, but it most likely creates unnecessary resistance. Choosing something because it sounds good doesn’t do you any good either. This leads me to my next tip...

3. Avoid fear-driven resolutions and be aware of your motivation.
Examine what's driving your desires. Is it fear? Obligation? Expectation? Is it your heart? In the Accomplishment lecture in my online class I talk about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation (Lecture 31). Intrinsic motivation is when the cause to do something comes from within; it’s your own organic interest and desire. Extrinsic motivation is when the desire is driven by external reward, such as money, promotion, grades or approval. External rewards aren’t bad; they’re just  not as motivating long term. You’re more likely to stick with intrinsically motivated desires. 

Remember that your new year resolutions are YOURS! You get to choose! This is where you get to play and be like a kid in a toy store. It’s your year, so you get to decide what to make of it. Avoid over thinking, analyzing and judging. Give yourself permission to go towards what feels most energizing—to choose whatever "toy" excites you versus the one you think is “right” for you. Ask yourself what intentions would be most loving or freeing for you and your well-being.  

I'd love to hear what resolutions you've set up for yourself and any tips you have for keeping up with those resolutions. Please share away below!

Wishing you a bounty of experiences imbued with your desired qualities, along with the ability to recognize and appreciate them as they come.

My best to you,