Why we should take our New Year resolutions seriously (and stick to them)
It's the first day of the new year. As the excitement from the fireworks displays and merry-making with our loved ones fizzles out, it's worth pausing and taking a closer look at the different thoughts and feelings we might have been having in the lead up to the new year, and even after the clock struck midnight.
Were you excited, exuberant that it pronounced a new beginning, full of hope? Or were you experiencing dread? Fear and uncertainty on what was to come? What were you thinking, as we all chanted the 10 second countdown to the new year? Did you make resolutions as fireworks burst overhead? If you did, notice what resolutions you made. What you told yourself, or what you promised yourself you would accomplish.
I'm sure we're no stranger to making new year resolutions. Most, if not all of us, would have made a wish for the new year at one point or another. I too am no exception. For 2016, I resolve to adopt a healthier and active lifestyle, exercising 3-4 times a week. I resolve to complete a book, something which took me 1 full year to start on. And I resolve to keep pushing myself, to keep doing things differently and to learn much more.
I still remember one resolution I made about 2 years ago: to bridge the thinking and doing gap. That was something I realised was a problem for me at that point in time: I thought too much and did too little. Yet, looking at the results from these past 2 years, I was still stuck at the thinking stage. I did not fulfil the promise I made to myself. And it was with this in mind that I decided to type this post, for this post to serve as a conduit for me to think carefully about what "New Year Resolutions" really mean to me.
What should they mean to us?
I realise that I tend to make resolutions in the heat of the moment. I get excited, and I make promises to myself which at that moment felt like something I would accomplish. But when the moment passes, the energy dissipates and I tell myself "It was a promise I made on a whim which I was never intending to fulfil anyway". I may not have realised it then, but pondering it more seriously now, I think with each time I did that, with each instance I made a promise I could not commit to, I was subtly sending a message to myself that "it's okay if I do not achieve what I want". I was giving myself more leeway to wiggle out of whatever commitment because "I made these promises on a whim". What I failed to see was: Why then, did this thing (which I declared to commit to) excite me? What was it about this thing that made me so happy and so hopeful? And in these responses I come up with, I may come up with a new answer or a new direction for myself.
We all love new beginnings, and it's perfectly fine to make declarations. But with each attestation we tie ourselves to, we're instilling in ourselves this hope and confidence that makes us feel good about ourselves, the "Yes, I'm going to do this". Yet, it is also with this new commitment we place on our shoulders that the discomfort starts creeping in. "Did I really say this? I wish I didn't. It's so hard/uncomfortable." No one likes being tied to something foreign or uncertain, not for a long time anyway. I may have said that I wished to lose 50 pounds this year. But when the runs appear to get harder, and this commitment feels heavier with each step I take, I may tell myself, "Let's give up". This is when we have to call to mind our intention and commitment behind this certain resolution we made. What do we want for ourselves?
Every beginning is fraught with uncertainties. Be it a new day, or a new year. And in our individual dynamics with the concept of the "new (beginning)", it's a constant conversation with ourselves, asking ourselves what our Purpose is for doing something, how strong our Intention is, and how much we are willing to Give to get what we Want.
Stick to your new year resolutions. The situation may get sticky at some point, but recall the moment you took a step forward, this exact moment when you risked and was vulnerably courageous, when you made a stand for yourself. Recall how that made you feel. What propelled you to take that step. And how you can achieve as much as you let yourself achieve.
Let's make the most out of this new year.