Resolutions? Just Say No

Date posted: December 29, 2012

As the year comes to a close, our thoughts naturally turn to hopes and dreams for the New Year. However, in my humble opinion, we’ve been going about this resolution thing all wrong.

Long lasting change rarely happens from a punitive place, yet that’s where most people come up with their goals for the New Year. “I really need to (fill in the blank)…” Exercise, eat better, call my parents regularly, spend less, save more, lose weight, etc.

NewYearApproaching it this way puts the focus on what you’re not doing right. If thoughts really do become things, it’s no wonder you’re screwed. Besides, who gets motivated from being beaten down? Not this girl.

Before even thinking about New Year plans, I like to first reflect on accomplishments from the past year.

Here are some examples from my 2012 list to give you an idea of what I mean:

  1. Taught a weekend workshop at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
  2. Spent a lot of time in nature
  3. Hired a virtual assistant
  4. Deepened some important friendships
  5. Reached out for more help and support than ever before

I recommend including no fewer than 10 successes. Taking stock of the treasures and lessons from the previous year helps me to see that I’ve accomplished a lot more than I often remember.

Instead of focusing on any resolutions yet to be fulfilled, I give myself this pat on the back. Everyone likes to be seen and acknowledged, right? Going back to the idea of our inner child, wouldn’t she be much more likely to join forces with me if I take the time to congratulate her and us?

After my “Hell, Yeah!” session, I then look forward to the New Year. But instead of resolutions, I make a list of new things I want to try. This list, unlike most resolutions – or the new euphemism: “intentions”- is positive and enticing.

Here are some examples from my New Adventures list for 2013 (again, shoot for 10):

  1. Zip lining
  2. Visit a Toastmasters meeting
  3. Hike at least one of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers
  4. Take a cooking class
  5. Camp in the White Mountains

By making the exploration of things outside of my comfort zone my mission, I’m gently (and sometimes not so gently) living in my stretch zone. And as I’ve said before, that’s where the magic happens.

The more I visit my stretch zone, the more apt I am to make moves on any type of “resolution” I would’ve come up with. Stick with me here…

Because I feel plugged in and engaged in life by trying new and different things, I’m letting my inner little one have some fun, and, consequently, feel more confident. This keeps the two of us connected, and together, we can take on the world!

By making these fun plans, I’m inviting her to live out loud and not constantly reminding her of where I think she’s not good enough (which, by the way, is precisely what resolutions do). The bonus? She’s much more willing to play big with me in my business and life.

Instead of setting up all of these adult expectations and societal definitions of success, resolving to add more play into life is something she can get on board with. She then trusts me more, I have more fun, we both feel more confident, as a result my business flourishes, as do my relationships and my happiness. Sounds like a win-win-win-win to me!

Give it a go. I’d love to hear what some of your successes were in 2012. And what new things would you like to try in 2013? Let’s continue our conversation in the comments section below.

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  1. My inner child wants to me to spend lots of time at the lake house. Dreaming of a lake house is a VERY long awaited dream come true. Swimming, hiking & kayaking. NOW I want it to be comfortable to drive from home to lake. And vice-versa.

  2. Jan, congrat’s on your lake home, that’s a dream of mine and I’m working hard to get there. Kudo’s to you!

    1. Managed to save 32% of my income easily.
    2.Spent quality time with my teenage niece, enjoyed her take on life.
    3.Stood up to my family during the holidays and I am really good with it.

    1.Deepening the relationship with myself. No more reharshing the past.
    2.No longer tolerating verbal abuse from anyone.
    3.Spending as much time as possible at the lake, I love being near water.
    4.Welcoming change, rebirth and transformation.
    5.Keep giving thousand’s of kisses and hug’s to my dog. She love’s it, but I love it more!

    Thanks for Kerri for another great article, and a different way of looking at resolutions, I never did like them, this viewpoint is so much better and easier to put in perspective.

    • Wow, Kate! Great accomplishments! Thanks for sharing them. Keep reviewing your year to come up with even more. You deserve to be celebrated! To set yourself up for success in your new adventures, take a look at your list and see how you can make them even more accessible. Break down the steps until you get to super small, doable moves. You want to be careful to not let them head toward the resolution route. Your inner child will surely rebel! 😉

  3. Wonderful new take on reflection and promises 🙂

  4. Love this idea, Kerri! I wrote out my accomplishments for 2012, and remembered some at the beginning of the year that I had forgotten about. Feels so good to celebrate myself in this way.

    1. Spent 10 days in Maui by myself and had a blast!
    2. Went zip lining
    3. Tried paddle boarding
    4. Gave a presentation to 200 people.
    5. Completed two 5k runs.
    6. Learned how to set boundaries.
    7. Didn’t check my work email for an entire week while in Maui.
    8. Named one of the top 40 engineers under 40 in the country.

    Have to admit that I’m struggling with this list. Everything I come up with seems more like a resolution than something I want to try.

    • Wow, Becky! Your accomplishments are amazing! Congratulations! Try and come up with 2 more.

      Yes, it can get a bit tricky to come up with the adventures and not have them lean toward a resolution. If you have a past list of fun activities that you’ve made in the past, take a peek at that. If not, think about some things you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t. It can help to imagine that you have guests in town and they’re asking you to see the sights in your area. What types of things would you recommend to them that maybe you haven’t done.

      Perhaps there’s a museum you’ve been meaning to visit. Or some great restaurants you’ve never eaten at. Check out the smartphone app “All Trails” and find some new green space around you to explore.

      Just some thoughts to get the wheels churning! Let’s us know what you come up with!

  5. Kerri,
    I will keep your suggestion’s in mind. If you have time, there is a site called, “Emerging from Broken”, there you will find my story among so many other’s. All I want is to be happy and not hurt anymore.

    • Kate, I took a few minutes to peruse the site, and I’m so sorry you’re hurting. After reading my blog post “Don’t Mess with Mini Me,” look for ways to re-develop the relationship between the adult you and the younger you. She needs you right now and you have all the love to give her. Sending you love.

  6. Kerri,
    I love your website, so many wonderful articles. But, what? Who is my inner child?

    I think I’ll stick with just reading, I need to learn more before I write.

  7. Kerri, your question WHAT DOES MY INNER CHILD NEED TO FEEL SAFE TO DRIVE BACK & FORTH TO THE LAKE HOUSE? is a brilliant question as I have no idea or any answer. Feeling a bit out of control and helpless.

    • Jan, give this a go — take out a piece of paper or your journal. Write at the top “What do you need to feel safe to drive back and forth to the lake house?” Then just write, write, write. This is called free-writing. No filtering. No editing. No worrying about grammar or punctuation. Let’s give your inner child the space she needs to feel heard. I find it takes about 3 pages to drop from our head to our heart, so keep writing! She’ll tell you what she needs.

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