Get rid of the resolutions and think bigger.

You know the routine: make resolutions, break resolutions. Then we beat ourselves up over our inability to change, and by the time we’re done wallowing it’s June and none of our goals for the new year are on track. We settle on the thought that next year will be our year though… Now that we are a month into 2018 are you already on that path to New Years’ resolution failure?

We have all heard that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” While I hate clichés, and this definition of insanity – which has been attributed to Einstein most often – has certainly become a cliché, to me, this is what making New Year’s resolutions has been reduced to.

I used to get caught up in that same performative cycle. Pledging to get better and improve year-over-year is well intentioned, but resolutions have become more societal expectation than personal promise that we are going to keep. This annual universal approach to self-improvement is just one more flawed system in a world of flawed systems, but it’s one with what I think has an easy fix.

Instead of rehashing a list of things you want to accomplish, create a vision for your life in what remains of this new year. Think about it, what’s is likely to be more successful? I am going to lose 30 pounds and journal every day (likely, coming from a context of I need to do that because I feel fat and have failed to do it for the last X number of year), or make healthier decisions and allow time for reflective thought (coming from an empowering context for your life like being healthy for your kids as they grow or having the energy and stamina to have the big impact you know you are meant to have in the world)?

If you still need some convincing, let’s talk about some more reasons why you should make visioning a priority in 2018.

Resolutions are inauthentic. Do we really put that much thought into our resolutions? If your answer is anything other than no, I’d love to hear more from you in the comments. Truthfully, the majority of us choose from something of a socially agreeable stock list of improvement items and choose the three or four we deem most desirable or attainable or that we feel we need to change because we are so unhappy with ourselves in that area. We feel no positive connection to them and, in fact, the ones most often listed are the ones we feel most bad about. Visioning, conversely, demands authenticity. It requires us to think deeply about how we want our lives to look. A vision requires clarity. A well-crafted vision asks us to access our truth and formulate priorities around what we value. It also has us be able to see ourselves already successful as opposed to coming from a place of reaction and need to get somewhere. This is a much more powerful context than resolutions provide.

Guiding principles are more powerful than obligations. I was listening to a podcast recently, and the guest said something that got me thinking: “If it’s on the calendar, I don’t want to do it.” I don’t agree with it entirely, but it’s revealing of how we approach perceived—and actual—obligations. Without being part of a larger empowering vision, they bog us down, always looming, always pulling us in directions that we might not otherwise choose to go. On the other hand, a vision, rooted in clarity, that’s aligned with our highest aims is something that we can aspire to. It provides direction and keeps us more oriented towards improvement than checking items off a list that we might never complete. The action steps we then commit to take to fulfill that vision do not come with the energy of obligation but, instead, excitement and choice.

A vision is less likely to fail. We want to succeed. I don’t doubt that we all set out to fulfill all of our typical resolutions, but what start out as goals too easily become these tortured pressure points that set us up for failure. A vision is less specific, but sets a more powerful context for how we live our lives. It’s not a question of success or failure, but how well we are realizing our vision. Failure leads to discouragement, which leads to us abandoning our resolutions entirely. A vision is about establishing a standard to which we can hold ourselves. If we reflect and determine we’re not where we want to be, that’s okay. We know exactly where we want to go because we’ve articulated a clear vision and in identifying that gap, the necessary action steps become clear. A vision moves the framework from a polarizing question of success or failure to an empowering notion of constant improvement.  It pulls you into a future you have created for yourself as opposed to you being pushed by your past failure, self-judgment and societal expectations.

My vision for 2018 is clear and I reconnect to it regularly. How are you doing so far in 2018? What is your vision for the rest of this year? If you have not already done, I strongly encourage you to set aside some time for a visioning session and getting clear on what you really want and how you want your life to look. The impact on all aspects of your life can be more profound than any resolution.

Ultimately, a positive vision for your life is rooted in being able to clearly articulate your objectives from a constructive context rather than reacting to negativity and trying to course correct. Sometimes, to realize that vision, all we need is a fresh perspective. If you’re ready to ditch the resolutions and create an uplifting vision of your life and future, check out my recent video on the topic: Instead of Making Resolutions, Be a Visionary

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