How To Substitute Resolutions With New Year's Projections
What is on your mind?
A New Year's Projection Could Be Fun
The New Year's resolution will contain pledges to lose weight, save money, spend more time with family and the list goes on. These resolutions are notorious for being broken. Throughout the year, we probably spent more time thinking about what other people ought to change.
There are popular television shows centered around judging entertainment acts: The Voice, American Idol, and America's Next Top Model. They exemplify how to observe others and suggest fixes. We seem to like this aspect of criticism as much as we like the display of talent. Perhaps more so.
Creating a New Year's resolution requires a sense of introspection. This can be difficult due to our natural self-preservation to deflect or project. Change is not easy.
If All Else Fails: Project ;)
The tradition of New Year's resolutions has traditional barriers. One of them is that we shirk introspection. So tryout some New Year's projections instead.
Projection: "a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people."
Deflection: is a mechanism that changes the topic of concern or redirects the focus of concern towards someone else's condition.
I propose drawing from both of these mechanisms. Although my examples may not be pure projections, they are within the spectrum of projection-deflection.
Since it can be uncomfortable to contemplate our faults or shortcomings, we will likely use a defense mechanism when faced with resolutions. We have also formed a habit of choosing resolutions that our peers will accept if broken. This is an example of unconditional positive regard. Your friends are prepared to console you if you lose the 15 lbs or not. Although comforting, it can also be of little aid towards change.
Fireworks to Celebrate the New YearClick thumbnail to view full-size
Peers and Unconditional Positive Regard
After raising awareness that we tend to fail our New Year's resolutions, we have dually noted that peers are likely to enable us. Is this really a bad attribute? After all, we don't want to surround ourselves with fair weather friends or jerks for that matter.
Our friends and acquaintances tend to offer up Carl Roger's unconditional positive regard: "showing complete support and acceptance of a person no matter what that person says or does." If Roger's whole system of humanistic self-actualization is utilized, there is a chance for change. However, most people will stop at the simple support and acceptance phase.
In contrast, one could use a drill sergeant to motivate change. This process will surely exclude soothing words, warm hugs, and compliments for missing goals.
Regardless of the system, if it is used more than once and fails, we are likely to grow weary of even trying. Hence why many have lost the appetite for New Year's resolutions. If you project change towards a teammate then the goal is likely to rope you in too. Some groups/teams have a better grasp on the balance between positive reinforcement and yelling at you when it's needed.
Group Fitness & CompetitionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Projection Role Play: What Not To Do
Reggie is a new teacher at a local high school. He has followed the old teacher adage, "don't smile 'til Christmas." While he is about to abandon this stone faced approach due to a lack of difference in classroom conduct, he realizes the alternatives are equally frivolous. The school is simply out of control and the principal is to blame. Reggie attends the in-house New Year's Eve party. The staff begin to profess resolutions:
[Principal] I'd like to thank everyone for their hard work this semester. I know that this class is a bit unruly, however you are doing a bang-up job.
[Reggie] Yes, having an 80% refusal rate from the substitute hot-line has made for a difficult time.
[Principal] Well, I think everyone knows that some prefer to teach at the charter schools and there are a few other unknown factors (blame shifting). What is your New Year's resolution (deflection)?
[Reggie] That you would be a more active principal and less incompetent. I am also setting a goal for you to stop leaving work an hour early each day.
It is entertaining to contemplate the alternative idea to setting and breaking annual promises. The tradition has good intentions and not all end poorly. Discussing our draw towards defense mechanisms and the tendency to project can be helpful in identifying tools to manage it. I have proposed a mixture of sarcastic ideas with ones of sincerity. I hope the sarcasm can be identified. I do not recommend projecting upon your boss. I do think highly of supportive groups and reaching goals together.
"They Don't Let You Quit..." [Teammates]
© 2014 t aaron brown