The Anti-New Year Resolution

As 2015 swiftly comes to a close, here’s some food for thought about a different way to approach goals for the new year. I wrote this article in 2013, but the information is still relevant. Enjoy! And Happy New Year.

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It’s been many years since I’ve set a new year’s resolution. The resolutions process is a little devoid of heart and depth. It’s been too easy for me to get caught up in the minutiae of crossing things off lists, without connecting to the heart behind it all. Before you know it, I’m involved in a soul-less conquest and the question of the week, month and year is whether or not I did or didn’t do this thing I said I was going to do. Burnout city, here I come!

When I got honest with myself, the real reason I set goals anyway was because I thought the attainment would have me feel a certain way — perhaps invigorated, thrilled, accepted, accomplished, any plethora of feeling tones. But what happens after the goal is achieved? The feeling soon wears off and it’s off to the races to slay yet another dragon.

Then I thought, why don’t I just cut to the chase and go for the feeling first? Let’s go for the real desire. The reason behind the goal. What is the thread that weaves the story of my life together? When I operate from this space, the experiences become the icing on the cake rather than the flour on which the cake is based.

This year I’m trying something different: setting annual themes. Annual themes are qualities, adjectives or expressions I intend to make the focus of my year. This idea of themes came about during a recent session with a life strategist/business coach.

The gist of creating a theme is fairly simple. It involves contemplating questions like:

  • How do I want to live? Not what do I want to do or accomplish, but what kinds of experiences do I want to draw into my life?
  • How do I want to comport myself?
  • If my year had a mood or a disposition, what would it be?
  • What’s the thread that weaves it all together?

Two of my three 2013 themes are: Authenticity and No Apologies. When I think about what these mean to me, a clear picture arises. The picture involves how I’m acting, who I’m with, what I’m doing and, most importantly, how I’m feeling.

What do I do with these themes now that I have them? Well, as I’m faced with a decision whether or not to do something, go somewhere, socialize with certain people, I ask myself: Does this decision, experience, action, relationship support my annual themes? Does this support how I want to feel this year?

If yes, full speed ahead. If not, then sorry Charlie, gotta go! This process very much applies to large-scale decisions as well as everyday encounters.

In the short time I’ve adopted themes, I can say I already prefer it over resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I still do create goals and actions, but the generated lists have a different timber. More genuine and inspired. I can make to-do scrolls and resolutions in my sleep. (And I actually have). But this idea of themes is simple and carries with it an opportunity to live with deeper meaning. And at the end of the day, that’s what I really want anyway.

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