At the stroke of midnight each incoming year, most of us are fired up about the 20# we hope to lose, or the gym membership we hope to use, the book we hope to write, the organizing we hope to do, the travel we hope to experience.
And by golly, we wake up on New Year's Day ready to begin those resolutions in earnest. We impress ourselves by getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to drive to the gym in drifts of snow. We bound out of bed with the first glimpse of the sun to make a pot of coffee to keep us alert and productive as we write several pages of that novel. We attack every closet and drawer in the house, ready to give away, throw away, or donate everything we no longer need or want.
But somewhere along the way, all of that enthusiasm begins to wane. It starts to feel too hard, too boring, too tedious, or just plain overwhelming. So we begin to eat, we shove all our belongings back into drawers and closets, or we tear up the thirty pages of scrawl that made no sense, anyway.
We are left feeling defeated, worn out, aggravated, beaten...
And it's only mid-January.
“I'll begin later,” we bargain with ourselves, “when I feel more ready.”
Well, folks, “ready” never comes because in order to make those changes in behaviors, habits, and/or beliefs, we have to go outside of our carefully-constructed comfort zones, and that never feels comfortable so we are rarely ready to change. If it was easy to leave what is familiar and do something different, we all would, all the time.
So instead, we make lists of things we desperately want to accomplish, have, do, or be, and then set out to get them by hustling forward, willy-nilly, slogging away at our goals. But it's unrealistic to believe that we can make changes without any preparation or training. How do we think we can suddenly do something different when we have tried so many times before, and fallen short?
When “feeling ready” fails to happen, we revert to what we know (that carefully-constructed comfort zone), and all of our resolutions go out the window.
But what if we took a backwards approach to the idea of accomplishing our goals, instead?
I have learned to put a different spin on making new year's resolutions, and surprisingly, it has become more successful than any unrealistic resolution I could have imposed upon myself!
First, my BFF and I set up a phone date during the last week of December. We live 1500 miles apart so this is our only option...for now. Before the call we have each written down all of our accomplishments from the previous year. At first, this list tends to look puny since we tend to think of “accomplishments” in terms of the big stuff that has happened, like marriage, divorce, school, or travel.
But think harder, and possibly even smaller.
What about new behaviors you've acted on; promotions you've received; compliments that made your heart swell; projects you've completed? Your list will suddenly look longer, and your excitement for a year well-spent will begin to explode. In fact, as you begin to share your lists, don't be surprised if listening to your loved one's list spurs memories to add to your own list. You may even start to notice how kick-ass you have been this past year and how much you have accomplished!
Now, could you have predicted that you'd be able to achieve so much last New Year's Eve when you wrote your list of resolutions for 2015?
But let me share the way in which goals can be reached, and without much effort. It's not how we've been conditioned to accomplish them—through a list of desired outcomes that we struggle to adhere to year-round—because those goals come without a road map. No wonder we can't get there. We don't know how to accomplish the list of goals without putting in lots of time, energy, muscle, force, or by sheer will-power.
But there is an easier way.
Consider this: after reflecting upon your 2015 list of achievements and sharing your long list with someone you care about, it's time to write a letter to yourself.
Write down all the things you hope to, wish to, intend to do in 2016. The big, the small, the silly, the mundane. Dream as big as you want to, then when you have written down every last possible goal you hope to accomplish, stuff the letter into an envelope and seal it. I like to write something on the envelope like, “Don't Open 'til December 31, 2016”.
Then hide it. (Or in my case, I leave it out in the open where I can see it year-round, but I'm also not tempted to open it).
Each time you think about your sealed letter throughout this next year, it may not spur any memories of what's inside. Or it might. But that doesn't matter. The point is that you wrote down your cherished wants and desires, and you've (hopefully) let go of any attachment to the outcomes because you don't need to obsess about how to make any of it come to life.
The only way I understand how this works is because it is so Law-of-Attraction-like. And very woo-woo. And I'm all about the Woo!
You've (unconsciously) planted a seed in your head to be on the look-out for the things you want. Have you ever wanted something so badly that you noticed everyone but you has a shiny new car, or is pregnant, or is traveling abroad? Or, you are pregnant, and you suddenly notice that everyone else is, too?! In both instances, it's because you have primed your brain to be on the hunt for that information, and it is dutifully matching up your outside world to the desires you covet internally.
You will be presented with different opportunities to get the things you want—a way to write the novel, lose the weight, de-clutter the house—a lot more easily, quickly, and successfully. Be on the lookout for coincidences that lead you to the thing you want, or ideas that crop up out of seemingly nowhere, or people that appear just when you need someone to help you get to where you want to go.
You don't have to do anything to make it happen. Your only “job” is to trust that whatever comes your way may be the one thing you need to move closer to your goal. Then take a leap of faith into whatever action may be needed, and believe that your desired outcome will eventually be on its merry way.
Because, I promise, your goal in some form will be on its way, and often when you least expect it, in a way that doesn't seem likely.
So begin by sharing your list accomplishments from 2015 with someone you care about before the clock strikes 2016, and congratulate yourself for a year well-done. Then write a letter to yourself, filled with all the desires for the new year, and seal it. Then forget about it.
When New Year's Eve 2016 rolls around, I would love to be a fly on the wall when you open your letter to yourself. I trust that some, or most, or all of what you'd written to yourself twelve months earlier will have already come true.
I know, because I've done this more than a dozen times and each time I am blown away by how much I accomplished without any formal New Year's resolution list that I've struggled to keep up with throughout the year.
Try it. Then let me know how it worked for you!
Oh, and Happy 2016 as you venture forth into becoming the new YOU!