As the New Year approaches, we have an opportunity to reflect on our life and measure ourselves. What were our goals or resolutions last year? If they were not attained or achieved, have we moved any closer? Are we making the same resolutions each year only to continue to fall short of that goal? More importantly, was there a solid thought-out plan of action? If the answer is anything less than a resounding YES, continue to read on…
Resolutions are not the culprit. Our lack of thinking, planning and acting sets the course for failure. Whenever there is a problem, there must be a solution for resolution! The issue or weakness such as as an addiction, bad habit, old thought pattern, unhealthy relationship or work environment etc.. can be easily identified. The solutions aren't as easy… But, if we truly want lasting change and resolution, we must take the necessary steps, listed below, to get there.
Define resolution: Be clear on what a resolution is before making one! The dictionary defines resolution as:
The act or process of resolving: such as
The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
The act of answering: SOLVING
The act of determining
Identify the problem: Becoming aware is the first step to making any change. Be completely clear on what needs to change. Once we are aware, we are ready for step three.
Devise a plan of action: This is the solution! The process involves resolving, analyzing, answering and determining. In other words: THINKING it through using the voice of reason, our intellect.
Write a reasonable plan of action that can be followed daily. A checklist might be helpful.
Perhaps we have done the three steps listed above and are still not progressing. Who ever said change was easy? We may be impeding our own growth because of our focus. Where is the focus of attention in the plan of action? Take a few moments to answer that honestly. Once we have reflected, ask if any part of the plan has to do with NOT doing something. If so, there is our problem! There is no such thing as giving up a behavior or habit. That is impossible. One may only take up new and different thoughts and various actions to replace the old ones.
Instead of creating a plan with a list of things we are not going to do or things to get rid of, make a list of all the things we ARE going to do! Remember: we cannot give up anything. We may only take up something higher! This is the concept of renunciation. A synonym is growth. For example, examine a child. They love toys and to play. As they grow they discover better toys. These better toys replace the previous toddler toys. As we age, the toys continue to change. There is simply a process of outgrowing the older toys and moving on. When we shift our focus to something higher we automatically lose interest in the lower.
Think about our resolution. Let’s say we want to stop being unkind to others. We cannot just stop being unkind! Instead, try to change our attitude. What new thoughts could we entertain? What actions are we going to take? If we want to give up smoking and we say, “tomorrow my plan is to not smoke”. Good luck with that! In only a matter of time, we will be smoking. The alternative of constant obsession and craving is just as harmful. Instead, focus on the NEW ACTION: Take a walk outside, read an uplifting book, make some hot tea and read the newspaper, call someone who is supportive, get your ass to yoga class… whatever it is, we must have something TO DO. If not, forget about reaching your goals.
Now we have a three step guide to solve and resolve! It is a process. Enjoy the ride and have a happy New Year!