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Shifting the Resolution

The bottle has been popped, the loved ones have been kissed, and the songs have been sung. We find ourselves in a new year, and wanting to start new things, because that calendar date is an important milestone. The reality is that we don’t have to wait for the New Year to start a resolution. Resolutions can be done year-round. Yet, we struggle with keeping up with the resolutions that we start. So what are the things that get in the way of following through with our resolutions?

Generally, the most often-provided answer is lack of time. But I would say it is picking the wrong emotions and supporting reasons for the resolution. Let’s use the example of weight loss/exercising to illustrate.

With the common resolution of weight loss/exercising, these are just a few of the reasons given: preparing for an upcoming wedding, keeping up with more active family members, and losses in the family due to health.

These are all good reasons, and are all difficult to accomplish. They are all worthy goals, but what is the emotion that motivates them? The answer is fear.

Fear of not meeting an appearance or acceptance. Fear of being left behind or abandoned.

Fear of loss and death.

These fears are great sparks, but they can burn up quickly, and we can find ourselves without the fuel to sustain the work needed to follow through on the resolution. We need more emotional energy and a different set of reasons that have a long burn time to see changes happen.

Some examples of more useful emotions and reasons are:

Contentment – I can spend more time with my loved ones. Pride — I am capable of doing this because I value myself. Love — I know my lost loved ones would be cheering me on.

We must shift the emotions and reasons to ones more capable of providing sustainable energy to commit to and stick with our resolutions.

So here are some questions you should consider to make your resolution a success:

  1. What is the resolution you want to make?
  2. What is the emotion behind why I’m doing this?
  3. What are the reasons I’m doing this?

Write the answers to those questions down, put them aside, look at them again later in the day or tomorrow, and ask yourself:

  1. Is this the same emotion I was feeling when I wrote this?
  2. Is there a different feeling that would work better?
  3. How much fear, anger, or whatever emotion you feel, is behind why I want or need to do this?
  4. Why do I value that emotion as fuel to accomplish this?
  5. What are other emotions and reasons, not based on those feelings that I can use?

Using your answer to the last question, write down and place reminders about these new feelings around you to affirm your efforts. The more we shift our values from a fear-based center to a joyful center, the more we can achieve.

To understand why it might be hard, or why those first emotions you felt when starting the resolutions aren’t sitting right with you, consider working with a mental health professional. They can help you to understand the difficulty and the steps needed to shift your motivations to more positive and productive ones that will help you succeed.