Whether you set them each year or never bother, it seems impossible to not reflect a wee bit on new beginnings, change, and habits for the new year. Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change explores personal reflections about longing and change, and I’d love to hear yours.
My favorite definition of a New Year’s resolution? I created this just for you!
Resolutions, Rewards & Capacity for Change
I messed up big time a year ago. I declared 2018 the year of…
Well, I’m not going to disclose the two personal resolutions because: (a) they aren’t relevant now and (b) I don’t have to.
(One of my resolutions may have been to relinquish a modicum of privacy…ha!)
Even though I set the intentions at the start of January, I failed miserably by February.
The resolutions actually brought distress since my declared intentions kept haunting me, reminding me of the failures.
I found an academic article about goals and rewards which sheds a little light on what went wrong and may help you as well.
Woolley and Fishbach found that it is the goals which lead to immediate rewards that are most likely to be kept. However, we often make resolutions which involve long-term rewards, which are far less likely to be kept.
People will be persistent about keeping their resolutions as long as they are being rewarded while they are keeping them. Apparently we’re just not that good at delay of gratification at any age!
The study got me thinking about rewards.
The whole reason for setting a resolution like healthier eating is for the reward of improved fitness, of less disease, and possibly a more attractive appearance, right? But if our healthy food choices are not delicious or satisfying, we likely won’t stick to the goal.
So I think for me personally, I’ll do better at reaching my goals if they are very specific and small.
Instead of resolving to eat healthy in 2019, for example, I might decide on a specific healthier eating habit. For example, to not eat anything after 6 p.m. When I eliminate eating at night, I always sleep better and have less GI symptoms. Such immediate rewards are more likely to keep me persistent in my habits.
Oh the healthier eating resolutions! Don’t we all have them!?!
When I was a teen, I used to babysit for a couple who attended Weight Watchers meetings together one night per week. After the meeting and weigh-in, they would swing by Baker’s Square and reward themselves with pie before returning home.
I recall thinking this routine was the silliest and most contradictory diet thing (yet I never complained since they sometimes gifted me with a whole French Silk pie!).
Maybe it wasn’t completely ridiculous. If thinking about the pie following the weigh-in (an immediate reward) kept them diligent the remainder of the week – maybe I was the clueless one questioning their strategy.
I Resolve to Love White Paint in 2019
Pretty sure I can keep this one!
I plan to write more on this topic later, but what I find more helpful than goal setting or resolution keeping is the idea of DAILY TRANSFORMATION.
In my experience, people in recovery are most acquainted with daily transformation – taking it a day at a time. You already know I’m a faith girl so for me, it’s about dedicating time daily to align with the divine.
Contemplation, meditation, prayer, and stillness are beautiful rhythms incorporated into my day. As I grow older, these practices help me to: cope, surrender, consent to Presence, stretch, grow, and enter healing.
Daily transformation isn’t always pleasant. It is often deeply humbling. Yet the rewards of inner peace, outward contentment, and improved relationships are rich.
Are the rewards immediate?
But the rewards aren’t exclusive. They flow outward into relationships.
When for 20 minutes or so, I am not clinging to past hurts or future worries, I am FREE in the RIGHT HERE and can be a vessel to receive and reflect light and love and peace.
For me, daily transformation means even the worse day will last 24 hours max before a new day dawns, new possibilities arise, and I can put on a new mind.
What shifts or goals or resolutions do you intend to make in 2019?
Will these new habits bring immediate rewards?
And if you won’t be making any resolutions, what lies at the basis of your decision to not bother?
What’s interesting about this whole resolution discussion is it taps into our philosophies and beliefs about whether people can truly change.
Know what I mean?
Whether the discussion centers on addiction or personality flaws, it’s easy to take a look around and think “people simply aren’t capable of change!”
It’s why transformation stories (whether they are human interest or interior design!) are so riveting–they seem remarkable and not typical.
I think change is sometimes difficult because we get the order of transformation mixed up. We tend to think that with outward changes, an inner change will follow.
But in my experience, enduring change begins internally and only then flows naturally outward for the long run.
Transforming from the inside out almost always involves loss, grief, and at the very least slowing down, which so few busy folks are willing to do!
Spiritual or emotional transformation often requires healers, help, therapy, and work. Things often begin to feel worse before they feel better.
Sticking with the work requires trust in the process.
And trusting often requires a leap of faith.
And maybe fresh hope.
But, oh the mountains that can move for those with faith in the valley!
In your experience, what are the critical factors for real change to occur?
Do you find it helpful to set daily intentions for yourself rather than a few big ones in January?
Wishing you gentle days of easing closer to the new year.
May you sense with awe the fresh possibilities and unknown blessings already on their way to you.
If you’re a believer, may you lean into the invitations God is placing before you and bravely give your YES.
And may you find moments of quiet peace to hear the whispers in your soul, beckoning you to become the loveliness you seek.
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Peace to you right where you are.
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