The trouble with New Year’s resolutions

The beginning of a new year is a natural time for new beginnings, including new habit formation … everybody knows that. But there is a built-in problem with New Year’s resolutions, which makes them virtually impossible to keep! Why is that? I think it is because we bite off too much.

Years ago I took a personal growth seminar that taught me the importance of keeping agreements. When we keep our agreements, our relationships are immeasurably better — people trust us, there is more ease all around. But when the seminar leaders asked us what % of our agreements did we keep with ourselves, I felt embarrassed because I hardly made any in the first place — for fear of disappointing myself! Then I had to confront that not making and not keeping (you can’t keep them if you don’t make them) agreements with myself limited my ability to trust my own self.

Impressed by this realization, I analyzed what went wrong with the ones I did make, and I realized that the problem was, like a New Year’s Resolution, they were just TOO BIG! (sound familiar?) They were “too big” not in terms of the actual goal, but in terms of time scale. At some point (3 weeks later on average), my ego would throw up its hands and say something like “What made you think you could pull this off FOREVER? Forget it … that’s not realistic … it can’t be done … take it easy!”

So … ever the inventor … I took it upon myself to come up with a personal agreement keeping system that solved this problem — so that I could develop greater trust and confidence by focusing on my relationship with myself. (I will describe my system, which works like a charm, in my next blog.)