This time of year, we find ourselves thinking of our goals and aspirations for the following year. I love setting goals. Goals keep me motivated and give me those little feelings of accomplishment as I move through the year. But I will admit that there is something about New Years resolutions that seem especially toxic and demotivating. It seems that people aren’t just setting goals for themselves but are instead deciding that who they are is unacceptable and needs to be replaced by a whole new person within the next year.
You know that super-fit woman that runs several miles every morning in $100 yoga pants with her long blond hair pulled into an effortless ponytail? Secretly I believe that my life would be perfect if I was her. But here’s the thing, I will never be her. Even if I buy the fancy workout clothes and start running every morning, I will never morph into her. I hate running, and have a very hard time forcing myself to do it. I would be miserable doing it. I know because I’ve tried to force myself several times. It’s just not me. However, I love walking and can very easily motivate myself to walk the same number of miles that she runs. It’s not “perfect”, it’s not going to turn me into a fantasy woman, but it is me and it’s doable.
So many of us were raised with the message that if we’re not “killin it”, we must be mediocre losers. So our New Years resolutions become an opportunity at “redemption”, to finally be good enough. Sure we write down goals like lose weight, have more money in the bank, and get organized, but what we really mean is “stop being such a pathetic loser”. No wonder we can’t stick to these goals!
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if you could only hate yourself enough than you would be motivated to stick to whatever goal it is you’ve set for yourself. If you can just hate yourself enough you will easily be able to stick to that water fast. It feels like the right things to do because afterall that’s the tactic that our parents, teachers, etc would use to try to motivate us when we were kids. But it doesn’t work. If it did, we wouldn’t have any issue transforming ourselves into these dream visions.
I believe that one of the biggest problems is so many people are trying to run on empty. Discipline and doing hard things takes a certain amount of fuel or currency. We get that currency when we experience satisfaction or reward. If there’s no currency coming in, you’re going to find it very hard to find the energy necessary to accomplish your goals, especially if these are big goals.
Some of us have been running on empty for so long we just have no idea how to refuel. The good news is I guarantee you your inner child knows. So how about this, how about instead your goal for this year is to connect with your inner child, discover what you need to achieve balance in your life, and then make deliberate efforts to have more of that currency coming in. I guarantee you that what your inner child is longing for is not prestige, image-related, or costs any money. For me, what my inner child was hungry for was taking more time to be alone in nature and to start drawing again. Simple but powerful.
I found this guided meditation by Michael Sealey to be especially powerful. Give it a try and let me know what you think!