Happy New Year! On this second day of the year, as we embrace what feels like the ultimate clean slate, remind me again what your resolutions were for this past year? Perhaps you wrote them down somewhere? Maybe they’re taped to your fridge? Or a note in your phone? There was likely something about being a ‘better’ person; being more healthy; prioritizing your time more efficiently; perhaps taking up a passion or completing a project… how did you fare? If we’re being honest, perhaps we couldn’t honestly say what our exact resolutions were, especially if we did not plan them out for the year, and quite possibly those same resolutions have been on your annual list a few times over.
Remember the toy, the Etch-A-Sketch? You could draw something on the screen and if it didn’t quite meet your fancy, you could shake it to clear it and then start again? What if we could look on our life that way? Obviously, the physical surroundings would remain the same, but rather we would be clearing our thoughts and emotions toward them. If you’ve ever spent time with a dog perhaps you’ve noticed that after they experience something emotionally grand they tend to do a full body shake, to reset their emotional state; clearing their internal Etch-A-Sketch. They don’t save their over-drawn Etch-A-Sketch for one day of the year, but rather they clear them as they feel the need to. There is no deep judgment, no dwelling, just an awareness, and a reset. They move on – grounded again. Obviously, as humans, we have the divine opportunity to grow and change our behaviors in a much more complex way, but all the more reason for the continuous shaking of our Etch-A-Sketch… we need that grounding so we don’t compound that which we dislike or disrupts our internal peace.
While I think it is wonderful to gather a list of aspirations, I also think that without diligent commitment and planning, it’s unlikely that months from now they will really have a chance of impacting our lives. It’s not enough to just repeatedly see something on a list, as behaviors don’t just change – they require us to recognize why they exist, face those understandings, and reframe them to align with the behavior we desire… this requires genuine awareness and effort. So, when you look over your list, consider step-by-step goals to achieve your desires. Perhaps it will require broad strokes – like therapy, or an intervention. or a reaching out for help? Why say we want them without being willing to do what it takes to actually have them?
If we’re being honest, people do this continuously… they state a change they are going to make, and because they’ve stated it, the problems that those behaviors are producing are expected to fade away. For example, someone who regularly drinks. Their partner is dismayed by the expense and the continuous altered state of being. The person states they will attempt to do better… then they get space as the partner waits for the change. This is a form of victimization because they have yet to address the underlying issues. Another example, a person joins a health club at the start of the year, and initially, they go two or three times a week. However, they have not really consulted a professional regarding their eating habits, or the proper level of exercise they should begin with or excel to… they have not addressed the ‘why’ and on that shaky ground, have started to build a shaky ‘how’. What will they do when life gets busy? What other changes will they need to make for when they feel the urge to pull into a drive-through? What if their partner is not willing to make any of these changes with them? Where will they get support? A shaky ‘how’ built without a genuine understanding of the ‘why’ is how our New Year’s resolutions are predictable year after year.
If I may – resolutions require us to have a plan and to be willing to continuously shake the Etch-A-Sketch, of routine, clean. We need internal space to accommodate change, and that means facing what got us to where we are, to begin with. Real change is always possible. Always. So, this year don’t just write your goals on January’s calendar, consider your goal full-circle and make plans to ensure your success.