Did you write out your 2009 New Year’s Resolutions last night?
It’s well past midnight, and you’ve had plenty of time to sleep in, so you know what that means—it’s now time to take a mindful look at your resolutions and see if they are constructing an empowering or limiting start to your new year.
Chances are some if not all of your resolutions fall under the popular categories listed below, which are provided by the U.S. government. If you didn’t make resolutions this year, chances are they would have fallen under the same or at least similar categories.
Let’s take a look at them:
Popular New Year’s Resolutions by USA.gov:
1) Lose Weight
2) Managing Debt
3) Save Money
4) Get a Better Job
5) Get Fit
6) Eat Right
7) Get a Better Education
8) Drink Less Alcohol
9) Quit Smoking Now
10) Reduce Stress Overall
11) Reduce Stress at Work
12) Take a Trip
13) Volunteer to Help Others
Let’s take a closer look #1, 4, 9, and 10. If you’re not careful with how you think about these particular resolutions, they easily lend themselves to the following (perhaps subconscious) translations:
- 1) Lose Weight in order to become more socially desirable based on other people’s standards of beauty and attraction, which may be impractical or outright unhealthy
- 4) Get a Better Job in order to conform to society’s standards of meaningful ways of making a living and achieving success; conform to society’s notion that a successful job means a meaningful life
- 9) Reduce Stress Overall [to Increase Well-Being Overall] in order to become more socially accepted by being happier, more easy going, and less prone to anger or distress
- 10) Quit Smoking Now under the illusion that by (temporarily) eradicating the symptoms of your compulsive behavior you will fix the emotional problems that led to the addiction in the first place, so that society will see that you do have self-control and virtue
As we can see, resolutions may be veiled as harmless, masquerading as positive—masking negative judgments that will only construct a year of the pain and disappoint that comes with mindlessly following society’s standards.
So I ask you: Are your resolutions really about you, or are they about other people’s projections of what you should aspire to? Are your resolutions implying that who you are right now is not good enough or resolved enough?
Are your resolutions about being a better and improved version of yourself?
If so, you can translate them so that they are about… being more aware of and taking into account your belief systems and assumptions about the world, both subconscious and conscious, so that you may exercise more response ability in your life and better realize your goals, values, passions, and potentials.
There’s a difference between saying that you need to be someone different, someone new and improved, “better”—and saying that you need to be more of who you are so you can be better at being who you are.
When you recognize the difference between positive and negative resolutions framing, you will see that:
- 1) Losing Weight is not as important as being as healthy as you can be and accepting the natural weight of your body when it is healthy. Likewise, losing weight for the acceptance of another is not as important as accepting yourself and only being close to those who accept you for who you are right now, not how they want you to be.
- 4) Getting a Better Job is not as important as finding the right way to spend your time and your money so that you are fulfilling your passions and finding meaning in your life. Getting a job that is “better” according to society’s standards is not as important as defining what “better” means to you—how you measure success in your own life.
- 9) Reducing Stress Overall [to Increase Well-Being Overall] is not as important as accepting all of your feelings, positive and negative, as the tools to improving your mental-emotional health. Fighting the negative feelings as the enemy is not as important as fixing the problems that give the feelings cause to exist. Being happier and more easy-going is not as important as allowing yourself to feel pain, disappointment, and anger, because they are important signals for when something is not right—and they can show you where you need to go to ensure your long-lasting happiness and easy-goingness in life.
- 10) Quitting Smoking Now is not as important as accepting the process (not act) of recovery, and realizing that addiction has a value because it masks the pain that you have been unable to face or cope with so that you can go on with your life without being taken down by that pain. Kicking a habit is not as important as understanding why that habit formed, so that in the long term, you can kick the destructive patterns that lead to or allow for the emotional pain—that drives you to the compulsion in the first place.
2009 is your year, and these are your resolutions we’re talking about.
They should be about you and for you, and only you. They shouldn’t pit you against yourself, but make you realize you need to support yourself if you are ever to be a “better” version, a truer version of you.
They shouldn’t highlight that you are “not good enough” now, but make you realize how much potential you have to work with yourself and slowly learn more about your dysfunctional habits so that you can change them for the better.
So take this day to make any revisions that you need—the rest of the year will be much better off if you start out on a positive note.
[If you have any other suggestions for New Year's Resolutions' Revisions, I would love to hear about them...post them in the comments below!]