Goodness knows I've made many changes in my life over the past several years but none was the result of any New Year's resolution. I gave up making New Year's Resolutions a long time ago because, although they always seemed like a good idea at the time, most of my resolutions never took flight. Moreover, if a resolution did make it out of the gate it usually had an incredibly short shelf life. For me, making New Year's resolutions was a holiday tradition, but breaking them was also a tradition.
If resolutions are supposed to be about making some kind of change in your life, then mine were the "fruitcake" of change -- a holiday tradition that is not taken seriously and easily discarded. For me, once the holidays were no longer a priority, neither were my resolutions. Like holiday decorations that had lost their appeal, I put -- or threw - my resolutions away. Soon - very soon - I would forget about them until the next holiday season rolled around and I engaged in the traditional cycle once again.
The cycle always began with my vowing to make a lifestyle change by either starting or stopping some behavior on January 1. If I resolved to stop doing something (like over-eating or smoking), chances are I would seriously indulge -- or over indulge -- in that behavior right up to 11:59pm, December 31. (This only made actually stopping the behavior extremely difficult.) If I resolved to begin something (like exercising regularly) on January 1, chances are I would keep finding reasons to re-schedule the kick-off date. (It's too cold, it's too late, I'm too tired, etc.) My pitiful self-deceptions and ridiculous excuses were actually a necessary part of the traditional cycle.
As each day of the New Year went by, the holiday season would drift further and further away. Likewise, I would traditionally drift further and further away from my resolutions and the changes I thought about making in my life. Instead of serving as a means to an end, my resolutions had become nothing more than temporary, if not momentary ideas. The traditional cycle would be complete when nothing - and I mean nothing - changed. That is until one year when I finally had an epiphany. Hallelujah!
I realized that, as a vehicle for affecting change in my life, my New Year's resolutions were powerless from the start. The problem was my tendency to treat declaring a resolution as a goal in and of itself -- another holiday tradition, like decorating my home, that I needed to check off my "to do" list. As a result, I was neglecting to focus on or assign any true and separate value to the real goal - the actual lifestyle change -- my resolution was supposed to help me achieve. Eventually, it became obvious to me that making a real change in my life would require a different approach, and so I began my personal revolution.
From then on, instead of coming up with what were for me meaningless New Year's resolutions, I focused on the changes I really wanted to make in my life. Instead of spotlighting a specific, arbitrary stop/start date, like January 1, I concentrated on developing a reasonable plan for implementing real change in my life. Instead of having the whole thing just drift away, I stayed motivated and committed to my goals by reminding myself how my lifestyle changes would allow me to exercise greater control over my life. As a result, instead of repeating an inconsequential holiday tradition, my revolution led to amazing accomplishments.
If, like me, you find New Year's resolutions have become non-starters for implementing any real change in your life, please don't be shy about sharing your thoughts and stories here. However, you might also consider starting your own personal revolution sometime this year. Skip the resolution stuff but consider what it is you really want to achieve. Then, go deep into your heart and soul and truly connect with the changes you want to make your life in 2010.
I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with amazing accomplishments. Viva la revolution!
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