12/27/2011 09:09 am ET Updated Feb 26, 2012

Now Is the Time to Burn the Bull: Why New Year Resolutions DON'T Work!

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

I have always believed that rituals, done as a contemplative practice with feeling, can have a very positive effect on our lives. Over the years as a workshop facilitator, on the last day of the year I have often conducted a ritual referred to as the "Burning Bowl" ceremony. It begins with each participant writing down what they are truly ready to release, with a commitment not to drag it into the new year. They then place the paper in a fire, allowing the flames to consume it, signifying their true release of the old "what has been" and opening to the new "what can be." One year someone told me they misread my email announcement earlier in the week and thought that it was a "Burning Bull" ceremony. Suffice it to say we had some fun with that one. Maybe it really is about burning the bull -- that is to say, getting rid of, conclusively, all excuses for recreating the same ol' same ol' again if it's not what honors the life we have come here to live.

As we come to closure with the year of 2011 and prepare to launch ourselves anew into 2012, it's easy to find the "no bull" factor in Einstein's statement, isn't it? We can all relate to the inherent wisdom to be found in his words. There is a self-knowing (or perhaps better said, a knowing self) within us that is always calling us to the higher ground of our being and it whispers very quietly, "It's time to create something new in your life." However, that very same self-knowing, when truly listened to, also affirms that we have an action role to play in making desired changes in our lives that will last. The challenge is that it is often difficult to find the "resolve" to take the proper action. It's as if there is a silent battle going on between the reactive self, which has a burning desire for instant gratification, and the wisdom of the proactive (or responsive) self that understands the rewards of delayed gratification.

I believe that the universe operates solely on the principle (or law) of cause and effect. If we desire a different result (effect) in some specific area of our lives, we know we have to introduce a new intention (cause). This is why I don't play the "new year resolution game," because it's dealing in willpower, which is dealing in effect (from the outside-in) rather than cause (from the inside-out). The truth is, "will"-power won't -- it won't sustain us for the long haul because it's being held in place only by the conscious mind, and that part of the mind tends to get distracted, bored, tired and restless, and then it goes off in some other direction which is generally counterproductive to our desires. Any lasting change we desire has to be deeply embodied in consciousness (our belief system) before it happens in our outer lives. It's never too late to inscribe new beliefs about ourselves on the interior walls of our mind, but we have to be open to releasing old beliefs. In the words of Dr. Ernest Holmes:

Life is a blackboard upon which we consciously or unconsciously write those messages which govern us. We hold the chalk and the eraser in our hand but are ignorant of this fact. What we now experience we need not continue to experience but the hand which holds the erasure must do its neutralizing work.

I know this is not a newsflash to any person who is consciously working on waking up and living mindfully, but a little reminder at this time of year can't hurt because we do tend to go unconscious from time to time, especially if things have been challenging. The good news is we don't have to be an Einstein to introduce a new cause into our lives -- we only need be awake and open for change. If we make space for infinite intelligence within to show us the way -- to lead us to the next step, It will. Ours is to trust the process by taking the appropriate action in faith.

So, my question for you is this: Is there any area of your life where you are continuing to do the same thing repeatedly, year after year, etc., and at some level hoping things will one day magically change? Having asked this question, I think it's equally important to remember that not everything we may need to release before we enter a new year with a peaceful heart has to have a negative connotation. There comes a time when we must even be willing to let go of the good memories of people, events and things from the past, if clinging to those memories causes us to remain stuck there, restricting our ability to move forward in creating a healthy life today.

Irrespective of what it may be, make a decision to do what you need to do to take a proactive step toward initiating the changes your soul desires. If not now, when? If you feel in need of support, I encourage you to seek it. Make an appointment to speak with your minister, a therapist or even a trusted friend -- just be sure that person is someone who will be your personal cheerleader as you cross the finish line of 2011 and enter the new year. As the old saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. May it be a day you'll long remember because you decided to make a conscious choice to become cause to a new effect in 2012.

Now, even Einstein would admit, that's smart thinking, and that is no bull.

Happy New You!