How to See New Years Resolutions Through a New Lens | By Inga Michaelsen

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womanMP900422196-crop-sq-smThe tradition of New Years resolutions goes back over 4000 years. Babylonians made promises & offerings to their gods at the beginning of the New Year, so the gods might bestow their grace upon them.

During Caesar’s time in ancient Rome, the first month of the year was named after the god Janus, a two faced god who looked backward into the old year and forward into the New Year. Resolutions were usually of a moral flavor – to be good to each other, to think of others etc. And in one form or another, the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions continues.

Indeed, making New Year’s Resolutions centered on the concept of self-improvement is still common. However, without fearing the gods any longer, most of us fail to follow through with what we resolve to do. In fact, the failure rate of those who come up with goals for the New Year is 88% (2007, Richard Wisemann, University of Bristol), even though 52% of those who set out on New Years Resolutions feel confident they will succeed.

Let’s explore why most people lose their motivation to reach their goals after only a short period of time.

The way we approach New Years Resolutions and goal setting is flawed as we most often come from a place of fear. Our inner critic makes us believe that what we previously have done has not been enough. So we create a “To do” list which is based on things we SHOULD be doing to correct the parts we like least about ourselves – what a “good” person would do.

Obviously, these goals are coming from a place that is sabotaging our resolve. They are stressful to pursue, often uninspiring, and drain our motivation.

However, if you observe closely beneath the surface, goals are always about creating a change in how we want to feel.

This year I invite you to clarify how you’d like to feel in the year ahead. Once clear on those feelings, you can envision those accomplishments and experiences that could make you feel that way.

Let me use an example: One of my coaching clients struggles with obesity. Her goal is to lose weight by doing her exercise program regularly and not eating junk food.

When she explored the feelings she actually desired – the feelings that lay underneath this goal – she wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, to feel self-respect and love. She wanted to feel the joy she gets walking her dogs without being out of breath; she wanted to feel freedom.

Not only did she become clear on how she wanted to feel, she also started to come up with different pathways to reach those desired feelings that were not limited to her original goal. She could take the dogs for a walk making the round a little longer every day. She could stand in front of the mirror and feel grateful for who she was. Create a support group that will exercise two days a week with her. Celebrate small accomplishments. Make a weekly meal plan. Envision how she wanted to feel (feel it, smell it, taste it).

You see, if we attach ourselves to a very particular goal – we can get stuck. However, once you focus on your desired feeling you will find that there is always an abundance of paths to what you want to create in your life. Your list of possible “to dos” becomes meaningful. And you can start right NOW.

So look at your list of goals and ask your self why that goal is on there. What’s the desired feeling underneath?

Then question yourself further:

  • What can I do today that gets me into this feeling?
  • What do I need to stop doing to get me into this feeling?
  • What new thoughts would get me into this feeling?
  • What thoughts get in the way of feeling this way?

When you get clear on how you want to feel, your decisions on what to do get informed by the heart of the matter. You start to see that life is full of opportunities to feel exactly the way you want to feel!

May your new year be blessed with infinite possibilities, a healthy mind, body and spirit and far exceed your expectations!

Inga-Michaelsen-116-smallContributing Author: The mother of two rambunctious boys, Inga Michaelsen lives on Salt Spring Island, BC in Canada. She is the founder of the Conscious Business Evolution helping people infuse their businesses with more passion, purpose and profit. Inga actively creates cultures where we all show up as leaders and co-create a future that is anchored in possibility, creativity and love. Check out her website, say hello on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

And check out her upcoming FREE online speaker series: Make Love Your Business – Lead Authentically, Thrive Financially and Give back generously

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4 Responses to How to See New Years Resolutions Through a New Lens | By Inga Michaelsen

  1. Mercury says:

    I think the biggest reason people always fail their NYRs is because their goals are too ambitious, or too vague. It’s always stuff like “I want to get ripped” (too ambitious in the short term, and too vague). You’d be better off making resolutions like planning to stop drinking soda, or stop eating fast food, or doing 20 push ups a day. Set small, explicit new habits you want to establish instead of big, overly ambitious, vague “goals” you want to achieve.

    That’s what I’d do anyway, but I think NYRs in general are silly 🙂 if you want to change something about yourself, you don’t need to wait for an arbitrary date!

    • Emma-Louise says:

      Dear Mercury, you raise good points! I believe that people do set NYRs that are too vague or ambitious, or even a NYR that is for someone else (and not themselves!). Oh – and also a NYR we do for our inner critic…

      And yes, I agree, we can decide to make a change at ANY time. However, I think for many of us, the end of a year is an (admittedly artificial) deadline that people use to reflect over the past year, and think about what they want from the year ahead.

      Small, explicit new habits – yes! Or one-off explicit goals. I actually use the word specific, but explicit works well too 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments Mercury. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Hannah says:

    Great tips here. I always like to set themes for my goals for the new year. If I focus on a word like “gratitude” or “discipline,” it gives me a focus that I can apply to my every day actions, rather than obsessing over a single goal. Thanks for sharing you thoughts!

    • Emma-Louise says:

      Dear Hannah, thank-you for taking the time to comment. Glad you liked the article and tips! I love this article from Inga too 🙂 Warmly, Emma-Louise

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