The New Year is upon us, which means it's time to make a resolution or two. So what will it be this year: lose weight, again; promise yourself a change of job, again; earn more money, perhaps?
The truth is, most of us will do the same thing we always do: set some goals that will be forgotten about by the 7th January, or thereabouts. So this year I'm proposing something different. And the goal-setting gurus will hate me for it.
Yes, I've heard it a million times before; the reason we don't stick to our resolutions and don't fulfill our goals is because they're not SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
And while there is a lot of truth in that, for me it's only half the story.
So this year, I'm throwing the rulebook out the window and offering you an alternative pathway.
Do nothing. Don't set any resolutions or goals.
And if you must set a resolution, then make it this: Give up wanting anything to happen in the New Year.
And if you have to set a goal, set a goal to set no goals.
“What! But it's New Year. A time to restart the clock, to set about achieving all that's possible and to fulfill my potential!”
Yadda, yadda… Forget it. If you don't want to find yourself in exactly the same position this time next year, thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same feelings, do this instead:
Rather than rushing forward in a panic to set resolutions or a list of goals you can start on New Year's day, forget all that and enter the New Year in a mode of being absolutely present, and absolutely positive about how great it's going to be.
If you do this, and endeavour to maintain this approach, you'll end up doing everything you're supposed to as and when it's supposed to be done.
Stop the “I must” thought mill turning over all the things you should have done this year that you'll “definitely do next year”.
Enter the New Year with zero pressure on your back to do anything other than remain open to the possibility of your potential, receptive to change and ready to show compassion to yourself for your shortcomings.
Out of the state of being will arise all the doing, and achievements you never planned for but will be amazed to see unfold.
The reality is that there's no point in setting the same resolutions you've been setting for years on end, only to feel disappointed and down on yourself.
Remember what Albert Einstein said:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
This cycle only perpetuates feelings of failure and inadequacy, which is wholly negative and certainly not conducive to achieving goals.
Consider for a moment why you haven't shifted that weight, changed that job, built that shed in the garden or watched your son play football more often.
Maybe you didn't really want to, or maybe you were busy prioritising things that don't bring the soul-fulfilling contentment to your life that you internally seek.
Maybe you thought so hard about doing positive things that you didn't get around to actually putting them in motion.
Now there's a thought. Why is it that for all the motivation you have before the 1st January, you get more unproductive as the year goes on?
I'm willing to bet that it's because for the last x amount of years, you've been setting New Year's resolutions without really knowing what you really want out of life.
You are not doing what your heart is yearning for.
Perhaps your resolutions and goals are based on the expectations of others.
Perhaps you are being driven by a false need to conform to societal norms.
So this year, it's time to make a real change. It's time to take stock of where you are and what you want out of life, not to continue doing what others expect you to do or what you think might make you seem or feel more successful or more appealing.
How about, for this New Year, you just allow you to be you?
It doesn't seem like a big resolution, but in fact this is absolutely massive.
It doesn't matter how many goal-setting guides you follow, the moment you stop piling pressure on yourself to undertake resolutions that you aren't wholly committed to, or don't even really want, is the moment you give yourself a chance to breath – to be present enough to see the wood for the trees.
That breathing space allows us to see who it is that has been doing all the doing, who it is who has been trying to reach all these goals and get to these moments of self-actualisation that never seem to quite plug the hole of fulfillment.
New Year or not, once we turn the search inwards and start truly understanding the “self”, the actor playing the role, we aren't just given a chance to start again; it's more than that. We are reborn, and most importantly, set free.
And this is the feeling a New Year should bring. A feeling of release. A feeling of newness. A feeling of being free.
Being here and not there, off in our mind's evaluations and projections all the time, and knowing instead of assuming and predicting what could be or might be “if”, gives rise to a purer awareness of self, and opens a pathway for clear seeing to navigate life's rough seas.
Of course there's always room for improvement in life, and yes, goal-setting can be a positive activity.
But if you always feel short-changed by your efforts and rewards, then perhaps it's time you stopped forcing yourself, stopped making empty promises to a stranger, stopped living through the expectations of others and instead made friends with yourself and the wonderful being that you are.
Empty your glass and step into this New Year without baggage from the last. If it feeds your soul, do it. If it makes you want to get out of bed in the morning with a smile, carry on.
Spring board into the New Year and let your positive energy synchronise with the earth and give you the clarity to move forward and be comfortable and contented with who you are.
Let go of the expectations of others and, for once, let your intuition take the lead in guiding you through the year.
I guarantee you will attract an abundance of positive opportunity into your life.