New Year’s resolutions and I have a checkered past. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t I end up feeling like a failure – and feeling like a failure is no way to start off a brand new year.
Luckily I’ve found a new method of making resolutions that works really well for me. I hope it might help you too.
Rebrand your resolutions and refer to them as ‘aspirations’ instead.
On the advice of Sarah Ban Breachnach in her timeless book Simple Abundance, every January I sit down quietly and write down the things I would like to accomplish in the year to come. From the sensible down-to-earth goals right on down to the crazy, who do I think I am dreams, it all gets written down. These are my aspirations.
Write your aspirations as concisely as possible. The vague “Lose weight” could become “To make healthier choices in food and drink whenever possible” and/or “To find an exercise I enjoy and do it regularly.” This means you are not failing if you don’t immediately begin to lose weight or find an exercise you enjoy. It’s that sense of failure that often causes us to give up entirely on our ‘resolutions’. However, provided you are making healthier choices as much of the time as possible, and seeking an exercise you enjoy by trying different activities, you are still working towards your aspiration.
It’s also a good idea to write aspirations in the positive. The negative “Stop worrying” becomes the positively worded “To expect things to turn out well and increase my optimism”. You get the idea.
It’s a surprisingly effective practice. When I look back at years gone by, it’s amazing how many of my ‘aspirations’ have become reality – even some of my wilder dreams.
The key is to keep looking at your list of aspirations regularly to remind yourself of them and keep yourself on track. It’s best to do this once a day, but even once or twice a week will really help.
The beauty of recording aspirations instead of ‘resolutions’ is that you can’t really feel disappointed in yourself or anything at all like a failure even if you don’t quite achieve them. While an aspiration is a more ephemeral thing than a resolution, it’s gentleness somehow makes it much stronger and more effective. In my personal experience, an aspiration creates an atmosphere of positive growth, whether or not you actually achieve your goals.
If you can find a few quiet moments over the next few days (you don’t have to do this all at once) take some time to search your heart and soul for your heart’s desires and write down your aspirations for the coming year. Allow this list to gently encourage you as the year moves on, nudging you slowly towards the fulfillment of your dreams.
I hope you will be as amazed as I have been at the direction this practice can allow your life to take.