Setting attainable New Year’s resolutions for 2015

Setting attainable New Year’s resolutions for 2015

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“Oh, promises, their kind of promises can just destroy a life… Oh, promises, those kind of promises take all the joy from life… Oh, promises, promises, my kind of promises can lead to joy and hope and love, yes, love.” —“Promises, Promises,” written by Hal David and performed by Dionne Warwick

Jan. 1 is the first day of the new year on the Gregorian calendar. For many, this holiday symbolizes a clean slate and the possibility of starting anew. Many people create self-goals called resolutions in the period leading up to the new year. “The Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions” on TIME.com begins with promises, as captured in the song “Promises, Promises.” The article cites the top 10 examples of American’s New Year’s resolutions:

  • Lose weight and get fit
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn something new
  • Eat healthier and diet
  • Get out of debt and save money
  • Spend more time with family
  • Travel to new places
  • Be less stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink less

“Out with the old, in with the new.” —Lee Douglas IV

Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, author of “Promised Land: My Journey through America’s Self-Help Culture,” wrote an interesting article entitled: “New Year’s Resolutions are Bad for You — For a Better Idea, Look to the Ancient Babylonians.” In this article, Shapiro says that the practice of making resolutions dates back to ancient Babylon. Babylonians made practical promises to their gods for the new year. Their promises were typically simple, concrete and highly achievable. An example would be committing to return borrowed farm equipment back to their original owners.

Shapiro argues that today, resolutions are “psychological in nature.” They are goals that we set for ourselves. And more often than not, they are lofty and non-measureable. Such goals are difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Shapiro believes that those types of nonspecific self-promises can actually complicate one’s life and lead to a downward spiral ending with an addiction to self-help. In other words, people can set themselves up for failure, or worse yet, create even bigger problems for themselves than they started with.

“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, I release the need for this in my life.” —Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

As human beings, we are often creatures of habit. We consciously create some of our reality but unfortunately form most of our reality unconsciously. A lot of what we create stems from behavioral habits. Sometimes, those habits once helped us in some way but now have become negative for us. For instance, a person overeats for self-comfort because that is what helped them through difficult times in the past. From a positive perspective, overeating can make a person feel good for a short period of time. But from a negative perspective eating too much food too often leads to health problems — both physical and mental. Using food to comfort one’s self also covers up hidden emotions and feelings (sadness, loneliness, pain, etc.) that cause a person to overeat in the first place.

From a deep perspective, the need to comfort one’s self stems from negative feelings that need to be made conscious. Becoming conscious of one’s own negativities is a challenge that many individuals don’t want to face. It seems easier to stick with old habits because they feel safe. And so the cycle of habitual, unconscious behaviors continue.

“The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” —Michelagelo

When I work with my clients in counseling and coaching, I teach approaches that help build a person’s spiritual resources. Once my clients have that inner foundation, they have the ability to deal with any “vain phantoms” that come their way. Once they shed light on their inner demons, they can transform them from phantoms to messengers that are telling them, “It is time to face your fears and let go of what is holding you back; it is time to move forward, to change, and to transform one’s consciousness.”

So if you set New Year’s resolutions this year, make sure you have a foundation of courage in order to make them happen. And remember, life — with all its idiosyncrasies, makes us who we are. We all have value and worth, despite our perceived weaknesses; we are all capable of setting measurable goals for ourselves, even if they seem mundane. To do so is part of the full expression of love, joy and hope. Happy New Year, everyone!


Jill E. Greinke, MSW, LCSW, SAC, is a holistic psychotherapist and transformational consultant specializing in transformational counseling and coaching, group coaching, workshops, teleconferences, presentations, speaking engagements and consultations. To get her free report, “Five Steps to Miraculous Living,” visit http://jillegreinke.com.

 

This article originally published Natures Pathways Magazine January 2015

 

 

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