By Barbara Poole
I like to think of the notion of "intentional choices" as January approaches rather than New Year's resolutions. Resolutions, after all, are made to be broken. If you want proof of this, just visit your local gym on a Monday night in early January and try fighting the crowds who are tackling the equipment with an air of fierce determination. Then, visit the same facility on a Monday night two months later. You'll have plenty of space and your choice of machines. Those self-made promises to get in shape, lose ten pounds, and be disciplined about the whole thing will have evaporated.
The custom of making New Year's resolutions is thought to have originated with the ancient Babylonians. In those days, resolutions centered primarily around commitments to return borrowed farm equipment to neighbors and make good on outstanding debts.
Our modern practice of making resolutions often has to do with changing habits: getting in shape, giving up smoking, watching less TV, etc. There's been plenty written about how to make these kinds of resolutions stick. Make sure your resolutions are specific and measurable, get a buddy, reward yourself....these are all good ways to increase the likelihood that you'll hang in there with your goals. And yet, it's still true that most of the time, New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside and wind up a mere memory like last year's fruitcake.
Now, I don't have anything against the notion of positive behavior change. If fact, I think it's integral to self-development. But I also believe that at least part of the reason why New Year's resolutions fail is that they deal with surface level things rather than the deeper human cravings that may have prompted them in the first place.
Take losing ten pounds, for example. Is that really just about being able to fit into a new pair of jeans? Or does it have more to do with wanting to shift to a way of being that is more intentional in honoring ourselves and the incredible machinery that we're made out of? And how about the TV thing? Is the goal here truly just to reduce the amount of time in front of the tube? Or, could it be more about creating intentional space for spending time with family, learning something new, or improving the quality of what we feed our minds?
This year, try substituting the notion of making intentional choices for living, for those New Year's resolutions. Here are some questions to think about to help you get started:
1. What were the five most important lessons you learned in the year 2001? How can you build on that learning in 2002?
2. How do you want to show up in the New Year? This is a question about how you want to BE, versus what you want to DO. Do you want to be more courageous? More loving? More patient? More serene?
3. What practices do you want to integrate into your life next year? And why do they matter? Commit to growing in ways that will honor what is most important to you, not just what satisfies the quick-fix craving.
4. What intentions will support your life mission? What do you want to be engaged in that will reinforce your sense of purpose and your core belief systems?
5. What can you do in 2002 that will bring more connection and fulfillment into your daily life? How can you acknowledge and celebrate the big and little things that show up every single day?
In the words of Alexander Clark, "Let us watch well our beginnings, and results will manage themselves." Happy New Year. May it be a time of peace, growth, wonder, and positive intentions.
©Barbara Poole, Success Builders, Inc., 2002