When New Year's Resolutions Go Bad

It's New Year's Eve, 2016 and time to make those annual resolutions. You know, the ones you will break one week from now? Or at least that's the way it always worked for me. The problem, I finally figured out, is that resolutions are typically based on the "shoulds" in life which are defined by everyone around you instead of by YOU. Life changes need to start deep within and be driven by a true and honest desire. A resolution to work out 3 times a week or loose weight (very common choices) or work harder or go to church or whatever likely won't cut it.  

Instead of doing resolutions I take time to reflect on the previous year and then set intentions for the year to come. There's a subtle but important difference between this and making a resolution. Resolutions have a sense of pressure - "I have to do this" or "I should do this". In addition they often have a negative tone and focus on what you won't do anymore instead of what you want to bring into your life. For example, "I will quit smoking" (negative - what you WON'T do) versus "I will live a healthy lifestyle" (positive - what you WILL do).  Positive attracts positve and negative attracts negative.  If you focus on not smoking, really you are focusing on the idea of smoking and all that goes with smoking. If you focus on being healthy you will focus on the things you need to do to get there and how it will feel.

When New Year's Resolutions Go Bad

If you want to try this out, then I recommend starting by reflecting on the year that's coming to a close. I have heard so many people this year say that 2016 was terrible ("I want to set fire to 2016 and then blow it up"). Yeah OK, there were some difficult times this year. Rather than focusing on the negative, instead reflect on the things that went well. What are you grateful for this year? What did you do well? What are you happy about? What made you smile? We tend to remember the bad stuff more readily than the good stuff so it might not come easily at first, but as soon as you start thinking about a couple of the good things in 2016 it will begin to flow.

Celebrate the blessings that 2016 has brought you. 

Now that you are in a positive mindset, make a list of the different life domains that are important to you. For example: work, family, friends, health, spirituality, and so on. You might even draw a life map like this:

When New Year's Resolutions Go Bad

Now for each life domain, write down what you want from this part of your life. Don't censor or limit yourself. This is about setting intentions, not listing a series of tasks that you have to accomplish. An example of an intention I am setting this year is to bring more play into my life. This falls inside my friend/family domain. Pick your top 5 intentions and mark them somehow - circle them, put a star next to them, write them in a separate section, whatever. Those are your primary areas of focus. Remember you don't have to do it all at once.

Now comes the really fun part. Create a Vision Board to represent your intentions for 2017. If you like to do collages you might sit down with a pile of magazines, a poster board and a glue stick and start gluing images that represent what you want onto the board. If you can't find a good image in the magazines then Google Images search is your best friend.  I made a "high tech" Vision Board this year and did it on Pinterest. 

Here's an example of a Vision Board done as a collage, from SarahProut.com:

Here's an example of a Vision Board done as a collage, from SarahProut.com:

Once you have done your reflections, set intentions and done some kind of visual representation (collage, Pinterest, etc) you can put it away and forget it. Your subconscious will continue to work for you. Periodically through the year you might want to take a peek back at your Vision Board as a reminder and an inspiration but don'tobess on it.

Look forward to all that 2017 has to offer you!

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