Don’t stress about making New Year’s resolutions
PUBLISHED: 10:42 17 December 2020 | UPDATED: 10:04 21 December 2020
New year, new you! That’s the clarion cry we hear every January, it seems, but there could be a better way to start your year, says Hale-based life coach Debra Thorpe
New Year is undoubtedly a time to think about what’s gone before and what we hope for in the coming months - and never more so than after 2020. But, every year we put pressure on ourselves on January 1st to make resolutions to sweep in a sparkly, new, ‘improved’ version of ourselves, as if it’s somehow obligatory.
I encourage you to take a different perspective; I doubt there’s anything wrong with the ‘old you’, actually. I propose instead that you focus on resetting to a state of ease, happiness and wellbeing - to make this your main resolution for 2021. It’s an ‘inside-out’ approach; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose a few pounds or get fitter, but are you any more likely to achieve this just because the date is 1st January, if what’s going on inside you is the source of your difficulty?
When my coaching clients want to lose weight, for example, self-discipline will take them so far but if the source of the issue lies inside them, overeating will rear its head once more. Or if they set a big goal for themselves but self-limiting beliefs and lack of confidence block them from making progress, there’s a huge sense of failure when they find themselves stuck in fear.
If, instead, you reset to being fine, how you were before life’s trials and tribulations were layered on top, you’ll find you’re well-placed to forge ahead to the life you wish for. The alternative? Joining the approximately 80% of people who feel an overwhelming sense of failure as they see their New Year resolutions disappear in a puff of smoke by mid-February. This is because change entails some degree of stress and discomfort, stretching you outside your comfort zone, so it’s important to be able to have the inner resources to deal with that stress, avoid self-sabotage and keep motivated.
What do I mean by ‘reset’? Imagine for a moment a snow globe - a Christmas ornament comprising a transparent dome enclosing a miniature scene surrounded by liquid. When shaken it creates a mini-snowstorm of tiny white particles. Now imagine that’s your life, full of turbulence when challenges come along but you’re in the midst of it, holding a place of calm at the centre. Striving just churns it up again, but if you just let it be, it settles.
So instead of chasing after the next thing to ‘improve’ yourself - an ‘outside-in’ approach - how about first focusing on ‘restoring factory settings’ and living your life from a place of ease? From that new starting point New Year resolutions and goals become more easily achievable.
What can you do to reset and then move forwards with your goals?
Think of it this way: RESET = Review, Evaluate, Spark, Expand, Transcend.
REVIEW what self-limiting beliefs you hold. What evidence is there? Is it possible it’s just a story you’re telling yourself? Perhaps way back, maybe when you were a child, someone told you you’d never be any good at (fill in the blanks). Did you once make a mistake at work that you’ve allowed to diminish how you think of yourself and your capabilities, even if you’ve since performed perfectly well? Stories are powerful things. When we create one in our mind we store the imagined experience in the form of pictures, feelings, sounds and through the other senses too. We make them ‘real’. And do you know that the body responds to an imagined experience as it does to a real one? Think of watching a horror movie with carefully crafted, shadowy scenes and music to set your nerves jangling. I’ll bet you can feel your heart racing, your eyes widening and your muscles tensing, though you know it’s a story. Challenge your internal stories. Are they still shaking up your snow globe?
EVALUATE your motivation level. A theory of motivation signposts why you might be stuck: Yale Business School Professor, Victor Vroom, established that motivation is high when we believe we have the skills or knowledge to achieve our goal, when we have a good expectation we will achieve it, and when the outcome is perceived to be desirable. Which of these might be impacting on your motivation? And then there’s procrastination. Are you close friends with it? It’s often the result of fear - fear of making a mistake, so you hesitate then do nothing; fear of making the wrong choice. But not making a decision is still making a choice! So life tends to happen to you, rather than you choosing a path. Consider what could be causing the fear that’s holding you stuck. Could it be another story you’re telling yourself?
SPARK your joy. Have you lost sight of what truly lights you up? Reflect back over your life: what did you love at the age of 10? And at 20 and 30? Have you let go of these expressions of you? What gets you in a state of ‘flow’, where time seems irrelevant and you’re totally absorbed in what you’re doing? Flow has been described as a state where you forget yourself and feel part of something larger. Feeling part of something larger is what gives us a sense of purpose. It gets us in touch with what we value. It’s finding happiness from the inside-out. Aim to bring more of it into your life.
EXPAND your future vision. From a place of inner calm and confidence write down your no-holds-barred future vision, without censoring yourself with thoughts of ‘that’ll never happen’. A ‘towards’ goal is more powerful than an ‘away from’ goal, drawing you to it, so make your written vision powerful, engaging all of your senses. Picture who will be there when you reach your goal and, most importantly, how it will feel. Read it aloud with excitement and energy to bring it to life.
TRANSCEND your old negative beliefs and surpass your current limits. Recognise that you don’t need a ‘new you’. Tap into your intuition - what is it telling you is the way forward for you? Practise daily habits to support confidence and self-belief, for example, keep a journal and note down what’s gone well; we tend to focus, unhelpfully, on what’s gone wrong.
Above all, remember the ‘old you’ is just fine and worth investing in.
Debra Thorpe is a life coach, based in Hale, and works with clients both on and offline.
Living Edge Exclusive Offer
To find out about Debra’s online RESET to Thrive course at an introductory offer price of £47, visit ResetToThrive. And there’s an exclusive Living Edge reader bonus of a one-to-one online coaching session with Debra for the first 15 to purchase.
Happy New Year!