Break those resolutions.
They’re not doing you any good.
Resolutions inevitably set you up for failure.
Think about it: Resolutions are usually created around something you have difficulty with, anyway, like exercising more or eating less. When you create a resolution, you take something that is already hard for you to do and pile on more expectations and more weight (so to speak) on the outcome.
Now what happens if you’re not able to keep your resolution?
You really suck.
In actuality, you don’t suck at all, but resolutions can make you think you do.
Guess what percentage of people who make resolutions actually achieve them?
Go ahead and guess. I’ll wait.
Ready for the answer?
8%. That’s eight percent, not a typo that’s supposed to be 80%. That means 92% fail at completely accomplishing our resolutions.
If you absolutely, positively have to create a resolution, at least do it in the best way possible.
Did you know that the origin of the word resolution is this?
Early 15c., “a breaking into parts,” from L. resolutionem (nom. resolutio) “process of reducing things into simpler forms”.
So, resolution actually means to break things down to make them simpler. The definition of resolution meaning “to hold firmly” didn’t appear until more than a hundred years later.
Rather than saying, “My resolution is to go to the gym more,” create something more specific, measurable, and smaller. Say, “I would like to go to the gym two times per week for the first 3 months and then bump it up to three times per week for the next 3 months.”
Instead of saying, “I’m going to cut out all carbs from my diet,” say, “I’m going to eat only 45 grams of carbs three days per week for one month.”
Reduce your breaking into parts to its simplest form.
Instead of a New Year’s resolution, why not set an intention for the new year?
An intention is about having an aim, a direction, a purpose – it’s not about a fixed goal. It can serve the same function as a goal, that is it can get you moving in a new direction.
But holding an intention is not as do-or-die …
For many people, the end of the year festivities are a time of joy and warmth, a time for nostalgia, and a time to celebrate with the loved ones in our lives.
But what time is it for others?
Those troubled by ugly memories of holidays past rather than ones filled with light and love.
Those who with the dreaded family get-togethers that you really can’t get out of but desperately want to.
And those who are alone for the holidays and don’t want to be.
How do we make this time not suck?
Here are some ideas:
1. Remember that this, too, shall pass.
Yes, I’ve used this phrase before. And I shall use it again and again and again.
Because no truer words have ever been spoken.
Even though The Holidays now start as soon as the last candy is nabbed from a neighbor on Halloween and last for about two full months, they’re going to pass.
Just like they do every year.
You’ll get through this year, too.
2. Don’t blow your dread out of proportion.
“I can’t stand the holidays!”
“Not another horrible dinner with my dad and his wife and her four bratty kids – I’ll never make it!”
“I’m the only one I know who doesn’t have somewhere to go and people to be with during the holidays.”
Your holidays aren’t fun, it’s true.
But do you make them suck even more by dwelling on your negative thoughts about them?
Try this instead: When you find yourself thinking your old thoughts that create dread in the very core of your being, just notice them and let them float away as though they are on a cloud in a breeze.
What usually happens is we go on and on and on in our minds about a thought, like this:
“Not another horrible dinner with my dad and his wife and her four bratty kids – I’ll never make it! All of that noise and shouting with those kids running at full tilt in the living room. And I never get any time with my dad since he has to do whatever Sheila says. …
We see gigantic, multi-faceted eyes, leathery skin, and hairy, feeler-y things sticking out in the front.
Who knows what those feeler-y things might be hiding? Probably some hideous mouth with powerful, trap-like jaws.
It makes me shudder just looking at it.
Do you know what this scary monster is?
It’s a gnat.
One of those tiny little insects that we swat at impatiently as they flit around our faces.
But it looks pretty scary when it’s magnified hundreds of times, doesn’t it?
This is the exact same thing that can happen when we’re faced with a problem or setback, too.
It can look really scary. So scary, in fact, that we shudder and run away from it.
What we may not know is that we’ve inadvertently magnified the problem so that it seems much, much larger than it really is.
As a matter of fact, it’s taken up our entire field of vision and not only appears frightening, but is preventing us from seeing around it to any kind of solution.
I’m not suggesting that all problems are in reality the size of gnats, but you understand the point: we often magnify and catastrophize situations that may not be as big as we perceive them to be.
So how do we keep problems in perspective?
Here are some ideas:
1. Remember that you’ve had problems in the past and are still here to talk about it.
Just like the magnified gnat taking up all of our visual space, we can allow problems to appear monstrous, too.
We get very focused on the stressful situation at hand and then have a hard time seeing anything else but the problem.
Next time this happens to you, take a deep breath, move a few steps back and get a bigger, longer-term picture.
You’ve had problems before. And you’ve figured them out and been able to move on.
Granted, the one you’re facing now might actually be more complicated or difficult than others.
Still, experience tells you that you’re going to get through this one, too.
2. Look at the problem from a different angle.
That magnified gnat is creepy.
Broken hearts. We’ve all had them, or will at some time. I hope these quotes for the broken-hearted will help you bounce back from heartbreak in the most healing way possible.
Remember that bouncing back from heartache is very much like bouncing back from other pain in our lives – you have to accept the loss in your life.
But remember this too: accepting something does not mean you have to like it.
One of the things I like about this quote for the broken-hearted from Edna St. Vincent Millay is that she has accepted the pain that accompanies heart break: I miss you like hell.
She is not using flowery, romantic language about the loss. She accepts it, but calls it like it is – a hole that she falls into every night, a hellish pain.
“I get up to that start line and my heart is pounding so hard I think I’m going to have a heart attack,” Andrea tells me. “I can barely remember the course or what I’m supposed to do out there.”
Andrea, my partner, loves to do agility sports with her dog, Georgia. But she experiences competition anxiety like many people do. It tends to interfere with her ability to run the course smoothly and make split-second decisions on how to guide Georgia most efficiently to the finish line.
Similarly, some of my clients tell me that they don’t know how to handle their intense emotions of frustration, sadness, anger, or a whole host of other feelings.
Both Andrea and my clients spend a lot of time and energy developing ways to make the feelings go away. Andrea tries taking deep breaths. A client might try avoiding thinking about the frustrating situation she is experiencing.
These are not bad ideas and they certainly are not going to hurt anything. (I, of course, am especially fond of the deep breathing idea!)
However, the root of the problem lies in trying to get rid of the emotion altogether.
Don’t buy into the emotion.
There is an essential resiliency skill that will help you not only take it, but bounce back from the really tough emotional times in your life. It has to do with perspective.
Let me illustrate by telling the following story.
A top girls’ school in London is currently engaging in an interesting experiment: Failure Week.
This entire week will be about failure and about “the value of having a go rather than playing it safe and perhaps achieving less.”
I love this. Here’s why: We need to become friends with failure in order to be able to bounce back in life.
Even though there is lip service paid to “it’s okay to fail,” the reality is that there is subtle and not-so-subtle pressure to do exactly the opposite – to be perfect.
I was sitting on the patio at Starbuck’s the other day passing time before I met a friend for lunch. I had a book with me and was trying to read it but, to tell the truth, my mood was down and I felt distracted from reading by my inner melancholy.
Having lived with depression for a long time, my mind resorted to its gamut of self-recriminations: “You shouldn’t be feeling this way.” “Everything is fine, just stop it.” “You get gloomy too often for no good reason.”
Finally, I caught myself, took a breath to let go of the negative thoughts, and went back to my book and mocha. A flash of pink caught my eye as the patio door opened in front of my table.
Let’s expand a little bit on the idea of acceptance that I wrote about in a recent post. In that article, I talked about how important it is to accept the reality of the adversity you may be facing.
Now let’s talk about the aspect of acceptance that has to do with letting go. Many times when I talk about letting go, I can see people’s eyes start to roll back in their heads.
“Oh great, I’ve fought and fought to keep my house from going into foreclosure, and now she wants me to give up?”
Herein lies the common misunderstanding: letting go is not so much about giving up as it is about giving in. It’s not about just standing by, doing nothing, as your house goes into foreclosure. But it is about giving in to the reality of your current situation and letting go of judgments and expectations you might have about the outcome.
Instead, your boss sighs, shakes his head, and says, “I have to tell you something.”
Suddenly, your excitement turns to dread.
“I’m sorry,” he says slowly, “but we’re going to have to lay you off.”
How do you get through this kind of shock and loss?