At this time of the year, many of us are accustomed to creating New Year’s Resolutions. If you think hard, I’m sure you can come up with at least half a dozen things you want to achieve this year. Maybe more? Write them down, and hey-presto, there you are! Your New Year’s Resolutions.
Yet we all know it’s not that simple!
According to some research from the US, 80% of people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions by the second week of February. In less than six weeks, most people might as well not have done the exercise in the first place. Yet, according to James Clear (author of the excellent book Atomic Habits), it can take anywhere between two to eight months to develop a new habit or behaviour.
One of the challenges is that we all overthink the resolutions without feeling ourselves into what they might mean to us. It’s the difference between thinking you’re overweight, so you need to go on some newfangled diet rather than feeling yourself into the benefits and deliciousness of a new body shape and imagining yourself into the new you.
There is an old saying attributable to Lao Tzu (with similar ideas found in other ancient traditions) that “the longest journey is from the head to the heart”. It’s a phrase I’ve heard before but have only just begun to understand its true meaning.
If we genuinely want to create the personal and social revolutions we want in our lives rather than just spinning around in circles for a few weeks and reverting to our old patterns of behaviour. In that case, we need to continue to step along that path of the longest journey from the head to the heart and do more of the things we are passionate about and which fire us up.
It’s particularly true if our change involves other people (which any revolution is bound to do). Speaking from the heart is far more likely to initiate and sustain that change in others. They’ll switch off pretty quickly if it is all intellectual head-stuff.
What do you do to shape, hold and focus your attention on your New Year’s Resolutions, so they don’t dissolve into old habits by Valentine’s Day? Please share. We can all learn about this stuff, whatever our belief system.