A New Approach to a New Year

By Joshua Nichols

How long does it take for you to give up on your New Year’s resolutions? Six months? Six weeks? One week? Less than a day?

Very rarely have I heard a story of someone successfully sticking with their New Year’s resolutions. I have heard plenty of stories of people not making it through January before calling a quits. It seems to me that more and more people are abandoning this age old tradition in its entirety simply to avoid that feeling of failure that so often accompanies this short-lived ambition. Why even bother, right?

I think we “bother” because we hope and strive for a better life for ourselves and others. That’s a good thing! I think the concept of a “new start” is one of the ways we have made it permissible to cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves a second chance. However, it is understandable that one could experience resolution burnout when there is a history of repetitive failure regarding this ritual. After all, how many times can you fail with your new weight loss goal before you start to believe that life in this way simply is not in the cards for you?

I hope you never cross the threshold into the dark and gloomy realm of hopelessness. There is hope in new beginnings. There is newfound life in New Year’s Resolutions. I hope to show that to you in this article, but it might require you to think about the effort in ways you never have before.

It’s more about accepting defeat than it is about aspiring to conquer.

As the New Year rolls around, we look at the up and coming year as an opportune time to seize the day! The crops of self-improvement have never been riper for harvesting than this time of year.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to realize that we have been here before. Three, four, or five weeks in, we begin to see that we are caught in our own version of Groundhog Day as we start to slip back into our old routines and habits for yet another story of defeat.

What if the problem isn’t our lack of drive or determination? What if the problem isn’t because we’re defective or weak? Instead, what if the problem is because we’re skipping a step in our conquering process – accepting defeat?

“Resolve is the feeling that lies just on the other side of defeat”

The above quote is something I found myself often saying to clients in effort to make the point that I attempting to make to you. Resolution isn’t just about creating resolve, it’s about becoming resolve. In order to discover that sense of resolve, you must first drop your sword and shield and fall to your knees in defeat, accepting the reality that you are the way you are – that you are of value and worth loving in your current state existence. Once you are okay with this reality, you’ll see that your desire to conquer has been replaced with new and refreshing desire – the desire to achieve.

It’s more about thinking differently than doing differently.

Historically, New Year’s Resolutions have become more about “doing” than “being.” We think we can work ourselves into a better existence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for self-improvement efforts. In fact, I think self-improvement is an aspiration we should pay attention to for the remainder of our lives. The question that I pose is, “What is motivating you to self-improve?” Are we motivated by our strong sense of love for self; or, are we driven by our ever present and inescapable feelings of disdain for self?

“We should work toward self-improvement not in order to be a good person, but because we already are one.”

Most New Year’s resolutions are going to require some form of physical effort and discipline. I’d be remiss to communicate otherwise. However, if your motivation comes from a place of self-loathing instead from a place of self-love, then I fear your efforts may continue to be fruitless. There is no amount of doing that will magically make you worth it. You just have to realize that you’ve always been good enough, despite your perceived success-to-failure ratio.

In typical therapist fashion, I just complicated something that was supposed to be simple, right? Actually, that is not the case. The reality is that the nature of a new resolution is very complicated because it involves the changing of human functioning. The concepts that I presented in this article fall in line with that reality in that they are very complex. I don’t have a magic wand or a “guaranteed three- step approach to achieving your wildest dreams.” What I do have are my words and my encouragement; thus, I encourage you to let these words marinate on our heart and mind. Then, revisit the resolutions you set for the upcoming year. Ask yourself, “Are there any changes I need to make?”

I hope this next year is filled with all the joy, love, and success you can handle. If that turns out to be the case for you, work hard to remember that you are worth every moment of it! However, if this year proves to be more difficult that you had hoped, it’s especially important to remember that you deserve better because you’re worth it, period! Circumstances don’t dictate that reality. Your existence does!

About the Author: Joshua Nichols is a licensed therapist and a co-owner of Family Solutions Counseling in the Oklahoma City metro area. He specializes in betrayal trauma recovery for and individuals and couples impacted by infidelity and sexually compulsive behavior.

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