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Why Do You Make New Year's Resolutions?

by Carlo Alcos Dec 27, 2011
Maybe there’s something else we can all focus on come December 31.

I CAN BREAK promises I make to myself at any time of the year (and I do). So why would I want to wait until one day out of 365 to do just that, and then beat myself up over not fulfilling them?

I’m gonna make a task list and cross things off as I accomplish them.
I’m gonna try eating differently to see if that has an effect on my energy levels.
I’m gonna meditate at least 20 minutes everyday.

A few notions among many that I set my intention to during 2011. All are things that I haven’t been able to follow through completely. Which isn’t to say they’ve been useless. I did make a task list and crossed some things off as I completed them. (The practice didn’t last too long — the list hasn’t grown nor shrunk at all in the past several weeks.) I did change some things in my diet, like reducing the dairy I consume. (I still haven’t completely switched diets like I’d planned). I have been meditating a lot more than in the past. (Although not daily.)

Are these failures? I see them as intentions. I find when I set intentions, they generally come to fruition; it just might not be in any expected time frame. Failing is a tough thing. It makes us do weird things like not try that thing again, becoming afraid of it. Because we don’t like failure.

So how can setting ourselves up for “failure” be a good thing? Goals and timelines do work for things like tasks, but do they work for lifestyle changes? Because these are usually what we’re promising ourselves during New Year’s. Resolving to lose 15 pounds by March is really about a lifestyle change — eating better, exercising more — than it is about just losing those 15 pounds.

As long as the intention stays true, it will come.

I can see how setting an intention to “eat healthier and exercise more”, while being honest and truthful to that intention, might be more helpful than resolving to lose 15 pounds in two months. The process of losing the weight becomes the goal…and how can you fail in a process? A process is just that, a process. And in that process, ups and downs occur. You move forward, you move back. You move forward, you move back. It’s all part of the process. As long as the intention stays true, it will come.

Another thing that I wanted to pass along in regards to New Year’s resolutions that I thought was really cool was what I read on someone’s Facebook status update. It was about changing the words to Christmas carols. The one referred to was “Let it snow”; the modified lyrics were, “Let it go, let it go, let it go.”

By definition, resolutions are forward looking. Letting something go requires one to be in the present moment. How about this New Year’s we take a look back and see what lingering things we’re harbouring from 2011 — grudges, anger, stresses. Rather than making promises you won’t keep, can you let what’s holding you back go?

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