THE BLOG
01/07/2015 12:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Dreams Can Help You KEEP Your New Year's Resolutions

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By Bobbie Ann Pimm via DreamsCloud.com

Have you ever made a New Year's resolution? If you're like most people, you have, despite the fact that deep down you know that you'll probably fail, just like you did last year and the year before, and the year before that.

You tell yourself, "This year will be different! This year, I really mean it! This year I'm going to follow through, and keep that resolution!"

But will you?

According to a January 2014 study performed by the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of all Americans make a New Year's resolution, but only 8 percent actually achieve them (1).

Is there some secret to keeping a New Year's resolution? Is there some esoteric knowledge that only special people have? Or is it really just a simple matter of determination, willpower or mind over matter?

Well, as it happens, I do have a secret -- and it's an ability that you already have. In fact, you have always had it and always will -- your nightly dreams! That's right; your dreams can help you keep your New Year's resolutions.

"How?" you might ask. Hold on, I'm getting to that part!

At a subconscious level you know what is best for you -- what you should and shouldn't do. Your dreams are a direct link to your subconscious. Your dreams never lie and will always have your best interest and highest potential as a guiding force. Carl Jung, Edgar Cayce, Jeremy Taylor and many other modern dreamworkers are all of the belief that, as Jeremy Taylor offers in his Dreamwork Toolkit (2), "All dreams ... come in the service of health and wholeness."

The first thing you'll need is a way to record your dreams. The ever faithful hand-written dream journal still works, but technology now offers new ways to keep a dream journal -- such as a voice recorder and dictation software, or a smartphone with a dream journal app.

Next, you should consider consulting your dreaming mind to be sure that you set a correct resolution -- something that is in alignment with your unconscious mind and waking life goals at this time in your life. Something that is healthy for your body, spirit and mind.

One way to do this would be to incubate a dream that will tell you what your resolution should be. If you've already made a resolution, incubate a dream that will confirm your resolution.

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To Incubate a Dream, Follow These Steps:

  1. Before going to sleep, put a pen and paper, a voice recorder or your smartphone with a dream journaling app on it, beside your bed.
  2. Sit or lay quietly, and clear your mind for a moment or two.
  3. Tell yourself that you want to make a change in this new year that will improve some aspect of waking life which may be physical, mental, or spiritual.
  4. Tell yourself that you will have a dream, which you will remember, that will answer the question, "What issue or behavior should I resolve to change or improve in this coming year?" Use your own words and vernacular so that saying it feels natural to you.
  5. Repeat it several times. You can even write it down or record it. "I will have a dream that I will remember that will tell me what issue or behavior I should resolve to change or improve in this coming year."
  6. If you have trouble remembering your dreams, setting the intention to remember a dream a few nights in a row will usually be sufficient. In the morning when you first wake up, don't move and follow these steps:
  7. When you wake up, lie completely still for a moment and try to recall what was just going through your mind. What image comes to mind? What were you doing or saying? Where were you? Try to remember as much as you can and then, before moving, go over it one more time.
  8. Pick up your pen and paper (or turn on your recorder or smartphone) and note a few keywords. Then record the dream in the present tense. The keywords will help jog your memory as you're recording the dream.
  9. Give the dream a title that captures the essence of the dream. You may be able to determine your correct resolution from the title alone. If not...
  10. Look over the dream. Is there a specific message? For instance, did a deceased loved one advise you to take a walk? If not...
  11. Look for a theme. What is it addressing -- a relationship, a health issue, a habit?
  12. Look for something that changed in the dream. For example, it is sunny and then it changes to rain. Consider what you were doing when the change occurred. How might this change be reflecting some aspect of yourself or your waking life?
  13. Look for a behavior that is in total opposition to how you normally behave in waking life. For instance, you apologize for making a mistake instead of making an excuse.
  14. Make a resolution that is in alignment with the dream essence, message, theme, change or difference.
  15. If you don't get a specific resolution the first night, try again. It may take a few nights, but you need to be sincere and take the same steps again.
  16. If you did make a resolution, incubate a dream the following night that will confirm it.

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Another way to use your dreams to help define a good resolution might be to review your dream journal entries from this past year. Is there a recurring theme or issue that continues to play out? If so, this may be telling you that there is something there that needs to change. Base your New Year's resolution on making this change.

Once you have made a resolution that is in alignment with your unconscious, you can use your dreams to help you stay on track and keep it. Before you go to bed each night, set the intention to have a dream that will show you where you are going wrong or that will affirm what you are doing right. You might consider writing down your daily activities before going to bed to "prime the pump" for your dreaming mind and reaffirm your determination to keep your resolution.

Your dreams will tell you when and where you might be going amiss -- and how to get back on track. Your dreams will never lead you astray -- once you learn to work with and interpret them. After recording your dream, look for the themes and patterns that your dreaming mind is addressing. If you are off track in keeping your resolution your dream will show you what you are doing wrong; or will provide a pat on the back to encourage you to continue on the right path.

Don't get discouraged if you slip up. Remember you are only human, and tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to get it right!

References

1. StatisticBrain.com. Retrieved 12/29/14 from http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

2. Taylor, Jeremy. Retrieved 12/29/2014 from http://jeremytaylor.com/dream_work/dream_work_toolkit/

DreamsCloud is the world's leading online dream resource, with an interactive database of more than 1.8 million dreams. Offering a 360-degree approach to dreaming -- including a real-time global dream map, dream journaling/sharing tools and the largest group of professional dream reflectors -- DreamsCloud empowers users to better understand their dreams and improve their waking lives. They offer a free app for iOS called DreamSphere and curate one of the largest available online dream dictionaries.

Blog author, Bobbie Ann Pimm, is a dream educator and author of Notes From a Dreamer ... on Dreaming: A Personal Journey in Dream Interpretation, written as a beginner's guide to learning to interpret your own dreams. She is an elected member to the Board of Directors of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and chair of their Membership Committee and the Regional Events Committee chair. She is also a member of the team of professional dream reflectors on DreamsCloud.com.