It’s Time to Banish New Year’s Resolutions
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
One of the most difficult therapeutic processes is confronting the forgotten oaths/promises/resolutions a person has unconsciously internalized which continue to cause harm. Oaths are made to never forget the pain of a broken heart. Promises are forged of not turning into a dysfunctional parent. Resolutions are created out of childhood trauma.
Then ironically, as if one broken desire is not enough, society encourages the pattern to restart every year. In Roman mythology, the god Janus (believed to be the root of January) is known for transitions from old into new. People would make promises to the god at the start of the year. This is the origin of the New Year’s tradition. But just because something has been done for centuries, does not mean it needs to continue into the future.
According to the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology (2016) research, 45% of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution but only 8% will achieve it with 24% having never succeeded at all. Such numbers indicates a brokenness and need for change.
So instead of another year of failed resolve, become intentional with a single purpose for the year. Personally, I like to pick a word as a goal for the year. There are no resolutions attached, just an aim or direction going forward. Here are a couple of examples:
- Restore. Left unmanaged, relationships, like water, take the path of least resistance and can easily deteriorate over time. Some are better left alone while other relationships may need restoration. Be deliberate in rebuilding bonds with people who enhance life.
- Courage. Fear has a way of destroying courage over time. It takes courage to try new things, to confront past failures, and to move forward without knowing all the specifics. Embracing this concept strengths character and resolve.
- Health. This is not about starting a new diet, drinking more water, or taking vitamins. Rather, it is about scheduling annual check-ups, healing old injuries, discovering alternatives to medication, and modifying lifestyle. Health can be physical, mental or emotional.
- Organize. While cleaning out a forgotten closet is helpful, organizing time, energy and resources is far more valuable. There are several good methods but one of the best is Stephen Covey’s Time Matrix which classifies every activity into one of four quadrants.
- Balance. Striking a balance between work, play, relationships, and family can be difficult. But by spending one year discovering new ways to create a healthy balance between the various roles, the long-term results can be quite significant.
- Attitude. The old saying, “Attitude is everything,” has some merit as perception can become reality. This is not positive thinking which frequently incorporates some form of denial. Rather, it is about confront difficult situations with a can-do mentality.
- Peace. In a time when peace is lacking from the world around, finding peace within one’s self is even more beneficial. This might mean letting go of past hurts, guilt, shame, and inadequacy in placement for healing, initiative, autonomy, and industry.
- Discovery. There are so many places to visit, things to see, and activities to do even within small towns. This could be on a large scale such as traveling to a foreign country or learning a new trade. Or it could be smaller such as learning to cook or exploring a local park.
- Creative. Everyone has the capacity to be creative in some manner. A well negotiated deal, a beautiful painting, inspired writing, new business plan, or an innovative solution all require imagination and creativity.
- Confront. The art of confrontation is a learned skill. Not everyone appreciates the same type or level of conflict. Nor is the same appropriate for every circumstance. Knowing the difference requires practice and expert timing.
- Happy. Happiness is more than a choice; it is a state of mind. While it can be situational, it must also be intentionally sought, otherwise it can abscond. This is not about winning a large lottery pot; rather it is about discovering happiness in the smaller more elusive things of life.
- Rest. There is a huge difference between purposeful and haphazard rest. A focused rest is taking time out to do a relaxing and enjoyable activity to rejuvenate. Whereas, disorganized rest is done out of exhaustion and isn’t as nearly as productive.
This year instead of making yet another forgotten and broken resolution chose a word that provides a purposeful direction. See where it takes you. It might just be the best year yet.
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