Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and What to Do Instead)

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't WorkHappy New Year!  I welcome this new year of with open arms and am energized about the possibilities. Yet, whenever someone starts talking about new year resolutions I cringe, the hair on my neck starts to stand up, and my insides want to prepare for battle.  The other day I started the year by attending a women’s networking meeting. As someone started talking about it being the time to get started with those resolutions I wanted to leap from my chair and scream bull!*$?!  Stop playing that mental game with yourself!

Why do I say this?  Well, first let me ask you…

How many years now have you been making resolutions?

How many of those resolutions have been fully realized?

How many of your resolutions for the coming year sound exactly like the resolutions you made last year (and the year before that, and the year before that…)?

If you are truly honest with yourself this whole game of new year’s resolutions has been nothing but a silly game of psychological warfare with yourself perpetuated through the ages, right?  Something you say each year to feel better about yourself (for about a week or two) in an attempt to get motivated around something that you at  least say you want. There is something approximating an 88% failure rate when it comes to resolutions (and many resolutions don’t even make it out of January).  Why is that and why is making resolutions just a silly game in which you set yourself up for failure and feeling bad about yourself?

Get real about why they don’t work with this inner awareness.

Willpower is a Depletable Resource

You cannot willpower your way to any lasting change.  It just isn’t possible.  It is not sustainable. The minute you are fatigued, distracted, or otherwise stressed mentally or physically, willpower goes out the window.  This is why it is so hard to resist all the cookies, donuts, and goodies at the holidays or at work when you’re running on low.  That is why it is hard to resist the pull of distractions (like Facebook, surfing the web, doing the laundry, etc.) when you are supposed to be focused on taking action in your business. Willpower plummets and the quality of your choices goes out the window. Resolutions by their very nature (“resolve”) are based on willpower.

The Bar Is Set Too High

Resolutions tend to sound like sweeping changes and include huge promises that are doomed to failure by their very nature.  Big promises that entail radical changes are usually empty promises.  (Think: political rhetoric) Behavior change and true transformation requires a systematic plan of achievable and sustainable change. I don’t care who you are, you’re unlikely to go from one extreme to the other  whether it is adopting a new work schedule, redesigning your marketing plan, or meeting your income goals.  Give yourself sky’s the limit permission with what you desire and your vision.  Drill down and focus in baby steps as you take action to bring that vision into the here and now.

Goals are One Dimensional

To me goals have been abused, mistreated, and overrated.  We throw them out there like darts at a board. Sometimes we even get really fancy and make SMART goals (don’t even get me started).  The end result?  Often the same…a misunderstood end point that may or may not get you where you want to go and is likely to justify the end at the expense of the means (and your experience along the way). There is a better, more effective way to do this. It involves adding dimension to what you want by getting clear on how you want to feel (so you can navigate by THAT as your compass) and the real  meaning behind your goals.

True Commitment is Lacking

Words and ideas are a dime a dozen.  In general as human beings we blow a lot of hot air with what we say.  It’s what we actually do that matters.  Words are cheap but actions speak loudly.  What you make time for and where you invest your money will give you a very clear picture of your priorities and commitments. Most resolutions are just hot air.

All said, the new year is still a great time to plan, vision, and begin to make the changes you most want to see. It’s just that if you want things to be different you actually have to do differently. Here are a few secrets that will have you putting the screws to resolutions and instead being in the 10% of people who actually will make lasting changes. [Read more…]

The Mantra for 2013: Simplify

At the start of each new year, I find that a theme foSimplify Your Life and Businessr my life and business organically emerges with some conscious intention.  It becomes a guiding force for the year as I make decisions both big and small.  It’s amazing the power this can have on your world.  Last year’s Shed – Sift – Savor trifecta turned my world around.  In fact I have chosen to keep that theme embedded in this year’s choice to simplify.

So what does it meant to simplify?  Frankly, I know at least a few close friends and family that would laugh at the idea that I am simplifying because they consider me “complex” or “difficult”.  They would say, “How could juicing, eating organic, or cooking from scratch simplify your life?” Or “How does launching a new product, traveling to a conference,  or offering a new service make things simpler?”

It actually does because my choices stem from the fact that I am very clear and intentional about what I desire and the choices I make. Sometimes these choices require a bit more effort than status quo. Yet, it serves me because I yearn to get to the root of the experience and the very fundamental nature of why I’m on the planet, why I’m in business, what I most want to experience, and how I most want to feel.  It’s not “right” or “wrong”, it just IS.  I believe you get to choose what you most desire as well, whatever that might look like.

There’s a lot of insight to be found in the definition of the words we toss around so freely.

Let’s look at the definition of simplify:

To make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier: to simplify a problem.

I would add that my desire to simplify stems from a desire to be radical (but not in the way you might think!).  You see I consider simplifying a radical act:

Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.

My desire is to get to the core of the things that matter.  That pure state where the complex gets simple and the focus is on the true nature of things.  From this Zen-like intention, I find life and business gets a lot easier.  The struggle melts away (or at least dissipates more quickly!).  Desired outcomes manifest more naturally. Enjoying the journey becomes a natural byproduct.

So what does all this mean in terms of day-to-day life in business?

What this looks like from an inner awareness perspective

Simplicity starts from within. You need to give yourself permission for things to have a sense of ease, flow, and “right” nature about them.   This ends the suffering (in fact the Buddhists spell this out in the Noble Eightfold Path).  Regardless of your beliefs, my bet is that you can already notice how much closer you are to your true nature when you allow yourself to be authentic, cut yourself a break, and reduce inevitable complexities into their own little baby steps.

This isn’t rocket science but it is a radical shift in the way most of us go about living and operating in our businesses.

  • Are you willing to rest in and honor simplicity (even when it feels uncomfortable and you just want to fill in that space)?
  • Will you allow it to be safe to be more Zen-like in how you operate in your business?
  • Can you trust that by making choices from a place of simplicity, trust, kindness, and compassion that your desired outcomes will flow?

What this means in terms of practical action: [Read more…]

Survive & Thrive During the Holidays: Intentions are Everything

When it comes to making the most of the holidays intentions are everything. Intentions are like a compass; they point you in a direction and give you something to refer back to along your journey so you can make sure you know where you are and where you would like to go.  If the two are not aligned you can make adjustments on the spot rather than waiting to find yourself completely lost and unhinged.

As you approach this holiday season, are you clear on your intentions for it? Meaning do you have a sense of what your inner desire is in terms of:

  • Activities you want to partake
  • People you wish to connect with
  • How you want to feel as you participate in holiday activities
  • What you choose to spend your money on (and why)
  • How much you can spend while staying in financial integrity

While the holidays can be a very busy time, the bottom line is you get to choose what you do (or not do) and how you show up.  Meaning, you are in charge of how you will feel this holiday season: stressed or unstressed, a slave to your money or in control of it, enjoying the season or just putting up with it.  Does that mean you will love every last thing you do this year? Hell no.  If you are in a relationship, work or part of an extended family, you may do things out of love that aren’t first choice on your list, but the people you are doing it for are at the tops of your list.  For example, your idea of fun may not be traveling to some distant state to spend a few days with your partner’s eclectic family.  Yet you love your partner deeply and your relationship is at the top of the list of things that matter most to you.  So, you go.  Even so, you get to choose whether you approach the trip with curiosity and treat it as an adventure (consider it your own live reality show!) or sulk through it and make everyone including yourself feel like you’re taking a trip through purgatory.

I want to take a moment to talk about the distinction between intentions and expectations.  [Read more…]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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