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The Pernicious Herd Mentality of Making New Year’s Resolutions

Updated on January 8, 2019
New Year's Resolutions sound so great to us, but failure is high unless we incorporate two important components.
New Year's Resolutions sound so great to us, but failure is high unless we incorporate two important components. | Source

The Holidays!

Around Halloween each year, whether consciously or subconsciously, we begin a celebratory frenzy of the holidays. It usually feels good to get to the holidays after all the stresses and strains of the previous 10 months. We purposely build in more time to spend with family, friends, and associates, laden with a certain amount of decadence and indulgence mixed with some practicality and generosity. For two solid months, we accept and prepare for the stress of taking on a greater number of commitments, whether for entertainment, business, or religious events. There is a certain rush we get from all these activities. A certain satisfaction that is truly akin to a kind of high that might come from some addictive happiness drug. It’s not a bad thing at all, although sustained for a period of two months seems a bit unrealistic in comparison with our day-to-day lives of the past 10 months. And by January we often feel a toll, whether slight or significant. As much as the holidays may be a much-needed relief, they can also be excessive. Excesses usually have certain consequences, both good and bad. Combine these with disappointment, unmet expectations, trauma, tragedy, depression and everything else that might ruin our holiday season, and we have a perfect storm for January Blues. Based on past patterns, the Blues last till spring.

"But it Sounded Like a Good Thing to Do."

So, quick! Join the groundswell movement of the newly committed, hungover, and depressed in setting New Year’s resolutions! (You see where I’m going with this, right?)

But logically, it seems to be the perfect thing to do, we think. It seems doable. We do want positive change. Why isn’t this the best thing to do?

First, how many times have you done this before, and how many times were you not able to meet those previous New Year’s Resolutions? And how have you felt about not being able to follow through in the past? Even if you did achieve your New Year’s Resolutions several times, the fact that you didn’t reach them many other times has taken a toll on your self-confidence. Of course you feel like a failure, and of course, you doubt your ability to follow through this time.

So does this mean you shouldn’t set goals?

Well, think about it. Is there ever a time in your life that you foresee that you’ll never want something better for yourself? No, there isn’t. But there is an important differentiation that we need to make—our desire to change has two sides. One is the awareness because of the lack of it (often associated with a certain feeling of desperation). The other is the joy of creating the change we want. You can feel the difference just by reading those two sentences! So you decide to make a change in your life because of the joy of creating that change. Perfect. But where are you now? Are you coming from a place of depletion, exhaustion, illness, depression, trauma, or are you coming from a place of clarity, inner peace and resolve? You can’t get from a place of depression to clarity without taking the progression of steps to get there. Remember how we started the holidays? It was a succession of steps that took us into and through the season. Steps combined with positive feelings.

Getting to clarity also takes steps.
Getting to clarity also takes steps. | Source

Our Best Decisions Are Made from a Place of Clarity

Making any change in your life is best done from a place of clarity. Clarity comes from wellness. Wellness instills inner peace. Inner peace inspires confidence. Confidence provides tools for you to create change in your life that you want to see.

The way to get to clarity from a place of depression, setback, lethargy, etc., is to reach for the next thought that helps you feel better. Take that step and then take another step and another, each time reaching for a happier, clearer thought until you have an “aha” moment. (This process may take you a while. Allow the time it needs.) That “aha” moment is your key to creating effective change in your life. This is where clarity lives. This is where wellness and confidence live. This is where real, effective life-changing creations happen. Positive change is the same thing—the same feeling—as creating. When you make positive change, you are literally creating your better life.

These moments usually aren’t inspired by a groundswell herding event of jumping on the latest bandwagon. They come from within, personally, whether alone or with others. Remember that our “aha” moments really apply to ourselves since we have no control over others’ behaviors or their journeys.

Simple Steps and Positive Emotions—One Is Not without the Other!

Let’s break things down a little. Let’s say you want to lose weight and get in better shape. In order to do so, you’ll want to
1.) create a progression of steps and
2.) positive emotions that
will allow you to be successful.

If you have a gym membership, have you used it consistently? If not, then you likely have reasons why. They are probably fairly good ones based on the difficulty or discomfort you feel and your related negative emotions. Are you used to working out for an hour several times a week? If not, then working out that long is going to be pretty tough for a while. You’ll most likely complain frequently about how hard it is and that you don’t like being so sore. There goes your clarity and feeling good about it. How about considering walking for a half hour every day? If a half hour is too much to commit to, then consider the Seven Minute Workout. After mastering the workout and seeing some results, you’ll likely feel more encouraged to expand your physical activity, based on your own personal interests.

Make things manageable.
Make things manageable. | Source

Most Diets Sabotage Results

What about your food intake? You’re used to eating a certain way. Maybe that’s not working for you as well you’d like. You’re tempted to find a diet and commit to it. The diet limits and restricts foods and the amounts you consume, and after only two weeks your body—which is used to eating an entirely different way—screams all kinds of cravings at you and you cave into them and fall off the wagon. The real reason diets don’t work is because they require too many changes, too quickly that your body isn't ready for. To avoid sabotaging your progress, choose just one or two things to modify.

For example:
• Find ways to reduce (not cut out entirely) sugar and soda drinks.
• Eat in more often, experimenting with new, healthier, recipes.
• Add more vegetables and raw foods to your meals.
• Increase your water intake.

When you feel you want to expand and increase your results further, follow the same pattern by only making changes in steps that make sense and provide you with a positive emotional result.

Start with simple changes when modifying your diet.
Start with simple changes when modifying your diet. | Source

Apply These Two Components to All of Your Best Decision-Making

Creating positive steps and positive emotions are the keys to making any change in our lives. They can be applied to any goals we make, from financial, to managing depression and emotional issues, to improving personal and professional relationships, and more. The key, in every case, is to start from a place of clarity and to take positive steps that will help you create the life you desire. You will find that blame and victimhood disappear and that you’ll feel far more empowered and capable. To help you track and monitor your progress, you’ll need this tool: The more you pay attention to how you feel, the more your emotions explain to you what is happening in your life.

Your emotions explain what is happening in your life.
Your emotions explain what is happening in your life. | Source

The Joy of Creating the Life You Desire

Now you can create change in your life at any time, any day, any way you want. Enjoy it. Relish it. Bask in it because these emotions combined with sensible, progression-oriented steps will take you anywhere you desire.

© 2019 Daniel Carter

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