Almost half the population will make a New Year’s Resolution this year,* but only about 8% will actually achieve them. Ironically, New Year’s Resolutions often end up making people more miserable, as they fail to stick to them.
Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail?
You believe your own well-being and happiness depends on them. For example, "if only I could…have more money / become slimmer / have a bigger house… then I would be happier with my life"
This creates an attachment to the outcome and an emotional investment which stifles your inner resourcefulness, and contaminates your thinking and motivation. If you need some ‘thing’ in order to be happy, then you won’t be. You’re doing it the wrong way around.
This is because you have based your goal on some idea that life will be better when you get it. It’s based on a misunderstanding that the external world or events and circumstances hold the key to our happiness and well-being. So we try really hard to create the right events and circumstances to make ourselves happier.
This doesn’t work - nothing in the outside world can determine how we feel. Our happiness comes from the ‘inside out’, not the ‘outside in’. So when we try to manage or force our happiness by changing the outside world, all we are doing is getting in the way of how things really work. And that creates the uphill feeling of trying to obtain our goals.
But surely they work sometimes?
Yes humans generally like having something to focus on, but most goal-setting techniques are contrived attempts to replicate what happens naturally when we access our innate desire. When we authentically want something from the inside-out, we don’t need to rely on motivation techniques and goal-setting. However when we force a goal or resolution, the system just doesn’t work as well that way around. It ends up being ‘outside-in’ motivation. Manufacturing motivation does work to extent, in that we can create strategies or habits to create action, but it is just so much more effortless, fun and successful doing it from the ‘inside-out’.
This is the difference between motivation with desire. Motivation is outside-in, and desire is inside-out. We can use motivation to do something because we are adaptable and used to having to contrive carrot or stick factors so that we change our behaviour e.g. 3 days of eating healthy then I can have a piece of cake, or I will reward myself with a new gadget if I do my tax return etc.
Desire, on the other hand, comes with its own built-in resourcefulness – it is authentic and so just happens. Limitations in beliefs and ‘stuck’ behaviours just fall away. It is effortless.
So what is the answer?
1. If you feel anxious about a particular goal, forget about it for a bit. A true, authentic goal should feel natural, clear and effortless – not a burden.
2. Instead of coming up with goals you think you should have, tap into your innate desires and trust the potential resourcefulness within you. Learn to calibrate what is coming from conditioned ego and what is coming from a deeper wisdom.
3. If you think your life will be worse if you don’t achieve your goal, forget it! It’s a toxic goal. Just pause and think about the reason you are setting the goal. Is it an authentic goal that YOU really want, or are you trying to satisfy others or manufacture happiness for yourself?
So if you are inclined to do some fresh thinking at the start of 2015 - tap into what your ‘deeper’ intelligence knows you need and want, as opposed to manufacturing some goals to provide your happiness.
If there is something in this article that resonates with you, drop me a line and we can carry on the conversation
*Research was conducted by the University of Scranton
The understanding and grounding behind this approach to change and transformation is The Three Principles >>