New Year’s Resolutions: Break Your Tradition, Not Your Self Image

With 2019 upon us, millions are performing the self-sabotaging ritual of listing New Year’s Resolutions. The deceptive, tired, inefficient, lazy approach to take full advantage of a “clean slate,” and, do correctly, this year, the things you neglected last year. Stop. Right now. Just open your mind and close your notebook, listing your failings. That’s the majority of our resolutions, after all. A composition of our perceived shortcomings. Resolutions, ironically, set us up to begin a year of self-doubt, self- loathing, frustration and hopelessness all by the stroke of midnight. Not exactly the way I want to begin my new year. Why are commitments of self-improvement so detrimental? In this case, it’s all about timing and previous lack of discipline. When we truly want to improve, grow, learn and foster our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health, we begin. Immediately. Awaiting a date on the calendar robs you of the vital determination to achieve your new way of life, however large or small the change. The word, itself, implies you’re determined to fix something that’s not working. “Resolve.” If you mean business, December 30th, or June 1st, or any other of the 364 days on the calendar are no less  significant that January 1st. In our society, we have been systematically programmed to focus on failures. It is a leading tactic in sales. While subtle, imperceptible ideas of “not good enough” are incessantly targeting our thoughts, we naturally internalize the need to correct the issue. Not because it’s our own desire, but because it’s been successfully planted in our heads that “_______” will improve our lives: socially, romantically, professionally, physically, mentally…millions of companies would go under if enough awareness existed, to realize that the fix is free. No one can sell you a better life. No one can solve your lack of discipline. No one has invented a gadget that unveils your authentic self. But, like clockwork, throngs of mislead people with good intentions will set about -“creating a better life,” beginning January 1st, determined to arrange external factors in an attempt to correct their internal dis-ease. They will join gyms that they’ll stop visiting in March. They will re-budget to save more money, vs questioning why consumerism is a temporary elixir to an ongoing problem inside themselves.  They will commit to volunteer in their community, only to decide they’ve taken on too much by the fourth time they donate their time. They will finally sign up for guitar lessons. They still won’t be playing the guitar by NEXT new years. The lists are endless and not a single facet is overlooked. If you take stock of your life and see glaring dissatisfaction in particular areas, for instance, procrastination…how, exactly, is putting this concern off until January 1st going to resolve anything? Every resolution we make prior to New Year’s Eve demands procrastination. Whammy number one. Secondly, while we begin with enthusiasm, the changes we are determined to make in our lives,  the waning of said enthusiasm inevitably settles in  and our list drops, as a priority…in many cases, our confidence takes a hit. This is especially true for the “all-or-nothings” of the world. You missed a work out? Screw it and eat the burger. That’s the mentality amongst so many of us. And, tomorrow, it becomes a bit easier to shift from disciplined practice to dismantling our slow, steady progress. When this thought process makes a full shift, we are in a far worse place than before we resolved to improve our lives. Why? Because, the problem still exists, but on top of it, we get to add to next year’s list “All the things I’ve not done so far but said I would, and rebuild my self-esteem, as a result.” If you’ve been a Tangled Lights Warrior for very long, you know I’m forever encouraging growth. I am not discouraging it, even in this article. It is my strongly held belief that New Year’s Resolutions are the opposite of growth. We miss the point, entirely, by the very system of these promises. A planted seed doesn’t wait to transform into a sprout. The sprout doesn’t wait to absorb nutrients, sunshine and water to produce leaves. This year’s problems (be it negligence, laziness, poor habits or character flaws) didn’t start THIS YEAR. It’s been a part of your make up for longer than you’d like to admit. Nothing is magic about January 1st. What IS magic, is utilizing your power any damn time you fully commit to change. THAT is how we transform…we awaken to the fact that we are in charge and every moment of the things we wish to change has been a choice. Even if the choice is in how you view the problem, that, too, has been a choice. The most empowering, lasting changes we make don’t involve start dates and shaky promises. They are made up of the capturing of our awareness that we are doing what we want to do, already. It was the more comfortable option between altering the behavior and choosing to grow. That’s blunt. I get it. It’s also true. I’m guilty. So, I’m not sitting in the jury box, weighing evidence of the sea of discarded vows. I did, however, cease any and all resolutions every new year in my 20’s. It started quite by accident. I couldn’t decide the order of importance in the overhaul of which my life was in desperate need. So, I didn’t make any resolutions, at all. I felt like a failure for having no answer when asked how these do-overs were going. I shrugged and said, “I didn’t make any.” It was as if I thought I didn’t NEED to improve. No one took a moment to think from that side of the coin. Which leads me to ANOTHER perfect reason to avoid, like the plague, this disease of promises. “It’s just what you do.” ‘YOU’ being the collective, the majority. To not have a tidy, magic list by midnight on Monday means you’re not a part of the HUGE circle that does. Lots of us could not care less, (you may have guessed, I’m in THAT group) but, many DO care. They care a lot. They are already afraid of failing…themselves, others, and that heaps even more hindrance to the PILE of horse shit we fail to realize rests atop our January intentions. Even worse than failing, many are afraid of beginning. They are paralyzed. For some, the overrated countdown to the starting gun of the first day of the new year carries with it, anxiety and obligation to succeed. The failure to do so, may be blown off by most of us, but, for those whose character has been long underestimated, the effects are greater than we know. Will they share it? Of course not. Embarrassment that the naysayers proved themselves right keeps those who most need to confide in another human, quiet. It’s all a massive cluster than needs to go away. I have YET to meet even one individual who includes in their story of success, “Well, it all started back in 1988 when I made a New Year’s Resolution.” Know why? Because they don’t place a greater emphasis of moving toward self improvement on January 1st than on June 16th! Everyday, EVERY DAY is an opportunity. I do NOT believe in “all work and no play,”…if anything, I play as much as I work. Hell, my work IS play. Not everybody finds a job in the world of skydiving, or whatever your hobby of choice may be. I am 100% for pursuing our true path. Sometimes, we think we know where that path will lead, only to take a detour and find we would have missed out on beautiful opportunities, otherwise. So, as often as possible, practice complete acceptance when things don’t go as planned. You haven’t seen the future, yet. Your magnificent awaits, too. So, as we overrate the midnight hour and 2018 is but a memory, understand that January 2nd, 2019 only rolls around once, also. Start today. Forget resolutions. Remember your calling. And, answer it. Happy year, Warriors.

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