What I Learned from Failed New Year’s Resolutions

2016 New Year's Resolutions

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Statistics prove it. Only 10% of people stick it out the whole year. 30% quit in the first week or so. It’s not you, it really is the method. I’m not saying you shouldn’t open up to change or pursue your dreams in the New Year, or that you absolutely can’t use the first day of the year as a gateway for change. I’m saying forget all about the traditional way of doing it!

Here’s why the old way doesn’t work:

  • Most of us base our New Year’s resolutions on what we feel we should do instead of what we are truly passionate about. Media is massively to blame for this is, as they like to bombard us with weight loss as the one thing we should all pursue in the New Year – especially us women.
  • The timing is all off. January is a harsh time of the year to start any new regime that requires oodles of self-discipline. Many of us are in hibernation mode and/or recovering after the holidays.
  • A resolution creates a sense of lack – as if we are not allowed to be happy or feel confident until we reach the goals we set for our New Year’s resolution, or at least survive a whole year of forcing ourselves to do something that we deep down really don’t want to do.  The gap we create between where we are and who we ought to be is the real reason for why our resolutions fuck us over. It’s basically like slapping a ‘not worthy’ sticker across our chests.

Bottom line: Life’s too short. And that’s what most of us end up telling ourselves a week or two into the New Year. There is actually deep wisdom in this.

Is there a better way to create change and open up to new, life-enhancing experiences in 2016?

You bet!

Here are four things I tried in 2015 that truly work in terms of creating lasting change. And that only happened once I learned to be OK with my own failed New Year’s resolution for that year…

I learned that health and happiness evolve organically when we honour the wisdom of the body.

***1. Moving the body in a way that feels good. The body always speaks the truth and it is a gentle guide in helping us find what works long-term and how we can begin to truly feel better. It’s about finding what feels good. Not in terms of instant gratification that leaves us filled with regret, but in terms of feeling more relaxed, energised and motivated to move all year long.

So many of us have had ‘no pain, no gain’ hammered into us that we almost laugh at the idea of tuning into what feels good.

In 2015 I returned to a regular, daily yoga practice and with it, I learned to set the intention for my practice at the start of each session.The word that stuck with me was integrity. Integrity is about bringing the fullness of me (mind-body-spirit) into each encounter and each moment.

We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.
― Bill Watterson

Now, I’m not saying you have to start a daily yoga practice, but maybe try tuning into your body daily? Put on some favourite tunes and try gently stretching it the way it guides you to. Ask what it wants for the day ahead in order to truly feel fabulous. Because here’s the thing – when your body feels fantastic, so does everything else.

Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.
– Parker Palmer

***2. Praying. Returning to a regular prayer practice and keeping the people in my care (including anyone who reads this!) in my daily prayers has had a knock-on effect on everything in my life. My priorities began to change a few weeks into this practice, and I become more peaceful than ever before. Anxiety evaporated. The benefits are too many to list but the most important aspect is that my faith has been restored because the results are undeniable. Prayer works…

Prayer works on three levels: devotion, spiritual alignment and intercession.

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.
– Corrie Ten Boom

***3. Making relaxation a priority is probably the biggest life-changer. A relaxed and serene mind has pretty much unlimited creative powers. Creating new content for the blog on a daily basis has not been a problem at all. My relationships have improved as my more relaxed stance creates openness where tension often created locked positions in the past.

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
– Ovid

***4. Failing miserably. Apart from failing at my own New Year’s resolutions from last year, I also failed miserably at some of the 30 Day challenges I tried 2015. And guess what…? That’s totally OK. Because it allowed me to find more of the things that work and feel great, as well as dismiss (or put on the back-burner) other stuff to free up more energy for what is truly yummy and helpful.

As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off.
Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance.
Having a sense of humor saves you.
― Joseph Campbell

So what do all these things have in common? Two words: love and trust in life itself. Contrast this with the hard control and forced change that a regimented New Year’s resolution succeed in creating for the 10% that manage to stick with the protocol. And even when they do succeed, they will probably rush to find the next gap to bridge… the next thing that will make them truly happy… How about just being happy and loving yourself here and now? Yeah, I’ll be doing more of that in 2016. Because it works 🙂

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ”
– M. Scott Peck

Happy New Year!