New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Don’t Work and What Will Instead

I have met a few people whose life is just as they want it. They are very happy and wouldn’t change a thing. But these people are rare. I bet if you looked at yourself or looked at your life, you would see some things that you wished could be different. Wanting things to be better is a normal part of human life. It's the first step in creating change.
New Year’s resolutions are a tradition born out of this desire to improve, to change, for things to be different. And they famously don’t work. So why do we as a society keep talking about them? Because we’re desperate for change and don’t know what else to do.
But they ought to work, right? We’re supposed to set goals and work toward them. It’s good to take some time each year, take a reckoning of our lives, and resolve to do things differently, isn’t it? Yes. Those things are good. The problems arise when we try to put them into practice.
closeup of woman hands and legs in meditative pose practice yoga outdoor shot
Change happens when we allow ourselves to be more of ourselves. The more authentic we are, the easier it is to change the outer trappings of our lives. Change just makes sense as we bring our lives into greater and greater alignment. When we have compassion for our foibles and make room in our minds to accept what is actually happening, we open the door to change. It's counterintuitive that accepting what is allows us to transform. But it's true and it works much better than beating ourselves up. Shame is a poor motivator. In order for change to last, we have to make room for the person we actually are (not the person we wish we were). Forcing ourselves to change may work for a time, but eventually we drift back to our old ways of being. Being mean to ourselves in order to create change just creates more problems. Not only do we have to still transform what we are hoping to change, we have to deal with all the uncomfortable feelings that arise when we nag, criticize, bribe, judge or demean ourselves on the road to change.
If you can accept the truth of your life and bring compassion to your suffering, you might be surprised how quickly change happens. This process removes the unconscious roadblocks that keep you trapped in the old patterns.  Learning to transform using this process helps you align yourself with the universal laws of consciousness that govern our lives.  Then change is easy.
So this year, instead of resolving to do the impossible, allow yourself the gift of compassion. Accept the truth of how your life is now, and feel love and compassion towards yourself. Sit with yourself in this space of love and let compassion open your heart--to yourself, to your suffering and to the changes you wish to bring.
PS This process is an integral part of what we teach in our Taming the Bear class. We have a new class starting January 26th. Check it out. It might be just what you need to create the changes you have been dreaming of.

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