How does the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” feel in your body? What images does it conjure in your mind?
My guess is mostly unpleasant images and feelings arise. Most of us have a slew of resolutions from years past that we broke in just a few short weeks and it leaves us feeling worse than before we even made them. A quick search on wikipedia shows a study conducted that finds an 88% failure rate on these resolutions. 88%! The odds seem stacked against us. So why do we still make them?
There is a gap between the person we see ourselves as currently versus the person we imagine ourselves to be, our best self, who lives in this abstract future that never seems to arrive. So, we set lofty goals in hopes of becoming this person. We chase these goals in hopes of achieving some feeling we associate with its accomplishment. The feeling we get “after.” But mostly, even if we do achieve these goals, that feeling is transient and we set new goals to get that feeling back again.
This is a conditional way of living. A reactive way of living. Feelings based completely on our circumstances. It leaves us often feeling like the victim of our own life. One of the definitions of the word “reactive” is “to act in opposition.” That is a life of resistance, a life of effort, a life of struggle. We are then at the mercy of the world around us.
What would happen if our feelings were a deliberate creation, rather than being a reaction to outside circumstances? What if we resolved to feel good now, not later, not after we achieved something? It would expand the possibilities of our achievements. And we would feel good while we did it, not just after for a fleeting moment.
The horizon we chase journeys with us as we run towards it. We will never arrive at the end of the horizon.
Our success is measured by the degree of joy in our lives. So why postpone our joy when we live in an eternal now?
Back to the business of New Year’s resolutions…
What is the feeling you want to bring about with the accomplishment of your goal? Let’s say your original resolution was to lose 10 pounds. How would losing 10 pounds make you feel? It would make me feel vibrant. It would make me feel light. It would make me feel energetic. It would make me feel… Fill in the blank with the feelings you think would come. Then start searching your mind for images in your life that make you feel the same way. What makes me feel vibrant? A full body laugh, the sun on my bare shoulders, my boyfriend looking at me with a sexy smile, dancing, music I feel in my bones… Picture these images in your mind, imagine how they feel in your whole body and soon enough, you feel vibrant, without having taken any external action. You just conjured it up with your imagination.
You always have access to these feelings you want. You make them more powerful by combining action while feeling them. What if you moved your body while feeling vibrant? You build momentum. You’d likely move your body more because it feels so damn good. Then losing that 10 pounds becomes easier, and more joyful. It becomes a byproduct of your joy, not the source of it.
You are the source of your joy.
The only New Year’s resolution I need is… feel good, now.