It is great to start the New Year fresh with great energy and powerful intention! I can imagine that many have made some kind of New Year’s resolution. The theme is trending high on the blogosphere. I typically prefer to stay away from “trendiness”, yet in this case, I feel I have a few comments that could be helpful to those who do decide to create resolutions for wellness.
Personally, I do not choose to use “resolutions” as a means to generate change in my lifestyle or behavior. I have my reasons, and I do not have anything against the practice. If it works, then it is a useful tool. The question is, “if it works”? For those who have had the experience of creating a resolution, and then finding it is not sustainable, I have a few points to contribute. I hope these notions will be helpful. They are not based on scientific study, nor are they based on any kind of evidence other than what I have found to be true in my experience. If the ideas are useful to you, then I am glad to be of service.
First of all, notice if your resolution has a “meta” level of message. In other words, is there an underlying message in your resolution; one that says something like: “Or else!” Any kind of attitude of “win/lose” or some kind of punitive view – “If I do not lose weight” or “If I do not go to the gym five days a week” or some such rule or regulation wrapped into the resolution. If you find this is the case, you have taken on your attempt at wellness promotion from a very competitive stance and you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Our culture is inherently very competitive. Remember the “Type A” personality that was supposed to be the reason everyone was dropping dead from heart attacks and cancer? We have moved away from this thinking and have focused more on biometrics and factors that are more physical in nature. Not that the mental has been left out of the picture. Thanks to the mindfulness movement, the mental and in some cases, the spiritual has been incorporated into the mainstream wellness promotion models. And yet, we still use a very competitive approach in many cases. We set goals and achieve them. And if we don’t achieve the goals? This is a “win/lose” scenario. Some may argue that this is necessary for incentive and motivation to change. Just ask yourself, “How is that working for you?”
What would a non-competitive resolution look like? Does it require removal of the goal setting process? How do we establish a “win/win” scenario for our wellness promotion practice? How about some basic ideas like compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance? Can we have a goal to change without creating rules that have an implied or underlying message that we are “bad” when we are not doing everything that we “expect” we “should” be doing? Of course we can! In the world of 12 Step Recovery there is a concept of “One day at a time”. If the 12 Step group punished every recovering person who had a relapse, there would be no recovering persons.
Success in making change is not measured in an “end goal”; it is measured in minute increments that take place a moment at a time. Some days are going to be more in alignment with the intention that has been set. And others are going to be out of alignment. This is the nature of change and we should expect this to happen. If we are in the habit of punishing ourselves on the days when we are out of alignment, we will eventually stop trying to make the change because the process is not very pleasant. This does not mean that we are rewarding ourselves when we are struggling. It means that we are being kind, caring, and forgiving when we need the support to make it through the rough days. On the days when we are in alignment, we are able to rejoice in the pleasure of enjoying the wellness practice, whichever it is. Still we need to keep in perspective that we will always have “good” days and “bad” days in life. Staying centered and grounded in relationship to either kind of day will produce serenity and harmony in our lives. We can step off of the rollercoaster anytime we choose to.
According to the theory of evolution, change happens gradually over time as small genetic features provide some kind of advantage in successful interaction with the environment. This success is the product of slow and steady change over many generations. If you think of wellness lifestyle as an evolutionary process, you must approach your growth and change with the notion that it is slow and steady. All of the rapid change approaches that are sold to the unsuspecting consumer are more often a marketing model to increase the bottom line of a corporation, rather than a means to sustainable wellness promotion for anyone.
Find out how you can design your intention to change based on sustainable approaches that are kind, compassionate, forgiving, and accepting. This requires a certain amount of inner awareness. There is not going to be a product that you can buy that will give you the answer to your wellness promotion practice. You are the solution!
Thank you for reading in this New Year. I look forward to providing thought provoking material and helpful suggestions throughout the coming year.