New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s Resolutions Failed?

by Dr. Richard Jordan

Ah, the New Year’s Resolution, evidence of the resilience of the human spirit…or at least our persistence. Every year most of us manage to burden ourselves with commitments to ourselves to improve something. Lose weight, get physical fit, stop smoking, fix a relationship, and make more money are common themes, targets of our fresh resolve.

Although study findings vary, it is safe to say that our New Year’s Resolutions fail more often than they succeed. And lots of people have spent lots of time trying to figure out why that is. That question will not be answered here, except to point out one thing. A New Year’s Resolution is usually in the form of a commitment to start or stop something, or to reach a specific goal or outcome. The problem is that any time one strays from the path or target, the resolution is deemed to have failed. Most New Year’s Resolutions set us up for failure.

So instead, I suggest a not-so-radical shift in your approach to self-improvement. Make a Springtime Resolution to give up New Year’s Resolutions! Set yourself up for success this year and beyond by committing to Guiding Principles versus resolutions. For example, I have two New Year’s Guiding Principles this year:

To live my life moment by moment with grace and ease.
To choose uplifting people and experiences.
I like these because they focus on the positive, on the things I want to have. Also, if I find myself angry with someone on the phone, or attempting to relate to a “wet blanket” in my life, I have not failed in my resolutions. Rather, I become aware that I am astray from my Guiding Principle, and I look for the opportunity to guide myself back. It’s kind of like the autopilot on an airplane. So, I am successful to the extent that I learn and grow from the moments in which I notice I am “off the beam.”

A Guiding Principle is focused upon the process, in my case the process of upliftment, grace, and ease in my life and others’. This is different from the usual nature of a New Year’s Resolution, in which the focus if on an outcome.

So, take a failed New Year’s Resolution, if you have one, and try it out. Re-design it into a Guiding Principle, so that any time you stray, you look for opportunity.

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