On this New Year’s Day for 2009, many of us participate in the practice of New Year’s resolutions. We look at areas of our lives that we want to improve – perhaps it’s our health, or our financial situation or primary relationship. Whatever the area(s) we feel need improvement are, we feel that the new year is a blank slate where we can write a new chapter for our lives.
Not unlike many of us, I am also drawn to this practice. As I was talking with my wife about the year ahead for us, I remember the years past where resolutions were so heartfully made, and then dropped by the wayside within weeks or days of January 1st.
So why does all this good intention go unrealized? I believe there are two primary reasons. The fist is that we don’t really understand change. Changing the way that life works out for us requires us to change our behaviors. Most of our behaviors are developed over time and become unconscious habits that are activated automatically.
To change our behaviors requires that we engage a practice that is focused on the change we desire. The first step in the practice is to recognize that the behaviors that create the situation I want to change exist. Through this recognition, I can watch the behaviors as they start and then begin the process of changing them. The second step in the process for change comes through a new choice on how to engage the situations that I encounter.
For instance, if I am trying to lose weight, I must first recognize the habits I have for putting food into my mouth. Maybe I hear a little voice that says, “Oh that will really taste nice, let’s give it a try.” when I spy a tasty pastry at the local coffee shop. Before I know it, the pastry is in my mouth and mostly consumed. By recognizing that there is this little “voice” that goes off when I see that pastry, I can move from an automatic response to deciding in this moment whether that pastry is really something I want to eat.
As I think about the changes I choose to make for 2009, I ask myself “what new practices will I begin to support these changes?”. So that it’s not only an intention, like saving enough money to pay off my credit cards, it’s also a series of practices that will help me recognize my current spending behavior, and support me in changing that behavior so that I can really accomplish my intention.
The second reason that our New Year’s resolutions go unrealized is that we can quickly become consumed with despair if we don’t see the results that we want right away. If my resolution is to find a new job and I don’t find that new job by the end of January, I haven’t really experienced what I’d like in finding that new job, and I will abandon my pursuit. I have the internal dialogue that says, “Well, it’s just too late to do anything about that now”. Then another eleven months go by without the change I want.
I was recently talking with Catherin Austin Fitts for the December 12th edition of our Business Matters radio program. She is a woman of much wisdom, and so many things in that conversation were very inspirational to me. One of the points she made is relevant to today’s topic. She pointed out that it’s never too late to start making changes in your life. Maybe we’re in financial situations where we are underwater with the value of our home compared to our mortgage amount. Perhaps, we are in a job we don’t like, but are afraid to make a change because of the “bad economy”. Maybe we are just so far overweight that we feel nothing can make a difference.
Whatever the inner dialogue about your situation, you can do something today, right now, that will be the first step to change. Don’t feel that you have to jump the Grand Canyon. Just take one step today. Then tomorrow take another step. If you forget, then the following day, take a new step. With each new step you will find the will to make real change in your life.
Blessings to each of you,