Forming resolutions is a societal practice that swings through the collective every December and echoes the reminder of our self-made promises throughout the first month of the year. As we all look towards the page turn of a calendar year, the pull to vision an enhanced reality is extremely strong. There is certainly something exciting and fueling about the transition from one year to the next, however for many of us we set ourselves up for disappointment. Now that we are moving through 2021, there is time to pause and reflect on the resolutions we have formed and whether they are in service or leading to the inevitable abandoned shelf that stores all of our resolutions from past New Year's transitions.
Why do resolutions fail? For starters, resolutions tend to focus on outcome. Resolutions easily become the end goals of a vision. There is a big leap from how we are currently operating in our reality to a new and exciting experience in our lives. This can place a massive amount of pressure in getting to that new reality and puts emphasis on getting to a certain place rather than being on the journey of moving towards a new reality. For example, a classic example of a New Year’s resolution is losing weight. We can use the energy of New Year’s to fuel our motivation and excitement around experiencing increased health. And for those whose health would be improved by a more balanced body weight, this is a fair goal to support.
However, if the resolution is to lose weight, but we do not honor nor value the experience of getting to the weight we want, we will hit resistance which all too easily leads to guilt, shame, and a sense of failure. Ultimately, so many people do not get to the place of resolution they set for themselves because there is a bypassing of the journey. We try to jump to the end that is "better" than where we are now. We are exchanging the present moment for a future reality that may or may not be realized and is hindered by our lack of intention to be present every step of the way.
As we hold our vision of where we want to go, can we also hold space for the power and beauty of the journey? To skip over the journey from where we are now to where we want to go, in any aspect of our experience, we are missing the present moment and feeding to an “if I get there, then I will be happy” illusion. Right here, right now, as we are, is whole and complete. Let’s make space for expansion but let us not lose sight of the perfection of this present moment right as it is.
Another reason resolutions fail is because they are built upon a belief of “not-enoughness”. That in order for me to be okay, to be loved, to be safe, something has to change. When a resolution carries the burden of needing to happen in order to satisfy a void a self-worth, ultimately it will fail.
Why? Because the the void of self-worth is not satisfied by the meeting of a resolution. If the wound itself is not addressed, there will be something else about the body, the relationship, the job, the life experience that needs to change in ordert for us to be happy. The never-ending pursuit of a "better" version of the not-enough human that is currently experience their life.
What may be more helpful is to work backwards from a resolution to see where it takes its root. Using the weight loss example once again, the question to ask is “What part of me feels like I need to lose weight?” Is it health? Is it self-image? Is it something I’ve learned from society? Is there part of me that feels like I need to change in order to be loved?
When we inquire into the source of our resolution, we are given information of where we can really support ourselves and where we can bring more self-love and acceptance into our current reality. We can see more clearly where our work really is.
This is a way of turning resolutions into devotions. So that we are tending to the pieces of us that are ready to expand as well as those that need a bit more exploration and care. Devotion to ourselves is a way of going on a loving journey of growth and expansion without leaving any part of our being behind. Instead of the burden that resolutions can carry, devotion honors all aspects of the self and sees clearly the places where transformation can occur. As the great spiritual teacher Pema Chodron once said, in this moment we are whole and complete and there is always work to do.
Devotions allow us to hold our expansion and growth in one open palm and the embodied knowing of our wholeness as we are in the other palm.
Let us turn resolutions into devotional commitments to deepening our relationship with ourselves. Let us not jump to the end goal, but rather enjoy the ride through devotion, self-love and vision for an expanded 2021.