Hello friends! The end of the year is here and along with it, a window of opportunity to jump start positive change with resolutions. Many of us including myself, have had the experience of setting resolutions and not following through with them.
Resolutions That Stick
I’ve learned that what makes a resolution doable and ultimately successful is
1) It’s meaningful to us and goes beyond skin deep image improvement
2)Will make our life more enjoyable
3)Is not too past our comfort zone that we can’t keep up the momentum of the effort through challenges.
Years of Learning Condensed Here for You!
Making resolutions with these 3 ingredients is what’s helped me actually keep them. Choosing what resolutions have those 3 ingredients though, has been the kicker! That has been a process of self reflection that over the years I have been able to condense into 3 parts. In the last post I shared the first part and today I’ll continue with the second part.
Life Review Recap
I shared in the last post a writing exercise I call a life review and it lays the groundwork for getting clear on what I want less and more of in 3 basic life areas: work, relationships and health. This review consists of taking inventory on what people, activities and things in each area are takers or feeders, meaning I gain energy from them or am drained by them.
Don’t Copy, Customize
This preliminary step is crucial. Before I started doing this I basically copied what the magazines and TV shows said were worthy resolutions and went no where. Grocery shopping demonstrates this point well. Just as we take inventory of what’s in the pantry before heading to the store, we cannot know what to take action on in our lives until we’re clear on what we have and what we want.
I made an example the layout of this written exercise is in the last post which you can see here.
The Painfully Glaring “Takers”
Once the life review is on paper what tends to happen is the takers will glare at you. In the same way when we take inventory of our kitchen pantry, we find expired foods and condiments, we also find areas of our life that need to be let go of. These takers are no different and can range anything from relationships, to physical clutter, grudges, junk food habits etc.
More Under the Surface
What you thought you thought and felt about those areas tends to change when it’s in black and white looking back at you. The first inclination can be to jump to planning on how to kick those to the curb! That’s what I’d make resolutions around and spend the rest of the year “working” at in the first few years of doing this.
Hold Ya’ Horses!
I’ve since learned though, that there’s no need to jump to the plan of action just yet. If crystal clear ideas come to you about what the next right step is in taking care of those takers, then great! By all means, make note and gear up.
If not then please hear me out in what I’m about to say, although not savory to accept, it will save you time.
Those takers are there because we allowed them to be there, we invited them some way , somehow. We did this either blatantly or by creating the perfect environment for them to creep in and grow on our planet, so to say, with the lifestyle we lived.
Get To The Root!
We can take action to get them out but what I’ve learned and will save you time is, that unless we get to the root of what was our part in bringing them into our life (other than blood relations where we don’t have a say) “getting them out” won’t do any good. What has been my truth is that they get replaced with other forms of takers.
Moving the outside things in our lives provides temporary relief compared to changing our insides.
Dealing With The Takers From The Inside
When an emotional charge comes up in me when looking at the takers I’ve written, I know there’s “big stuff” to let go of through the next process I’m about to share.
Love Letters, or Not
I write the takers a letter. Doesn’t matter if it’s your garage clutter, tell it everything you want to tell it and ask it everything you want to ask it. Avoid judging this step as silly as it may feel and do it anyway. If you get emotional around it, it’s because there IS something more behind this taker then meets the eye.
Dear Ice Cream Binge
I’ve written letters to my late night ice cream escapades, old bosses, closet clutter you name it! Don’t hold back. Write to all the takers, in all their forms. You know who they are because when you read them in the life review, you get emotional in some way, either anger, sadness or doom etc. Don’t worry about the rest of the takers that you know are irksome but don’t necessarily spark you.
Writing these letters can take more time in the beginning but definitely worth it. See it as exercising your discrimination muscle. It gets worked in this writing exercise and you tend to notice takers more in your every day life because of it. This was the case for me, resulting in the list of takers shrinking down over time because I spotted them more quickly, avoiding them making a home in my life in the first place.
When having emptied myself on paper and left with nothing else to say, I get out a stainless steel bowl that I found at a thrift shop. I place the letters in it, offer it up to the great and good cosmic force behind all of life, get a match and light em up! You can choose to offer it up to whatever feels right to you, just know that in lighting them up in flames the heavy emotion in those letters is being taken away.
Making Internal Space
There is something about having written all that emotional junk down and watching it go up in flames that is relieving and leaves me feeling lighter. When the ashes are cool I put them in the compost, it feels right to me to have them return to the natural environment. Do with them what feels right to you.
Life’s Good Awaits You
This is where the fun part begins. The blank canvas of your life awaits you to beckon all the goodness that’s yours to claim. This is the creating, dreaming up part. Once your emptied of all the heaviness of having reconciled at least on the inside, with the takers, the flip side of the coin is that there is a space left behind, like a vacuum, asking “What will you fill me up with?”
If your not coming up with concrete people, activities and things you can start with writing the kinds of feelings you want to have. Some examples are: expansiveness, playfulness, being bold, feeling spacious, focused, openness, assertive, supported, cherished, elegant, sexy, joyful etc. Usually in focusing on feelings, the details fill in naturally.
This is where resolutions come in. As the years go by I have learned that the resolutions that are the best investment of my time are those that create habits that strengthen my heart, body and mind. The internal strength created from regularly feeding yourself on all levels, the easier it is to see and take action on the outside stuff that needs to be changed.
Strengthen Your Core
When I just focus on making myself as resilient as I can be, then practical and effective ideas come naturally on changing what needs to be changed, down to the minutia.
Get Otta Ya’ Head
Most importantly the energy to actually make the changes comes, because let’s be honest, intellectually knowing what needs to be changed doesn’t do an iota of good in ACTUALLY making change. You need the energy, focus and grit to keep at the new behaviors and internal habits of thought to actually experience long term change.
The Steps Will Be Revealed
This 2nd part in creating resolutions is actually what will unfold in the upcoming year. After setting intentions on what you want more of, actually making that happen is revealed step by step by the force within that’s awakened and strengthened every day you take good care of yourself emotionally, mentally and physically.
That intelligence in you that knows what’s best has a better chance of guiding your decisions when you have set up the habits that get you in touch with it. To easily listen to that guidance you need to be your clearest, most calm and energized self.
Self Care: Cornerstone for Good Choices
To the extent that you fortify yourself is to the extent that you make life giving choices
Commit to regularly fortifying yourself heart body and mind. If your of a specific religion decide to make it a daily habit to read up on the principles to have better understanding. You can start exercising,drink more water, sleep earlier, journal, throw out a piece of clutter every week, you get the idea.
Here is a post with more ideas on what kinds of habits strengthen us.
In my next post I will share the last and most “make or break” part, in this resolutions process, the environmental setup.
If you found this post helpful please take a second to share, like or comment. Happy Holidays everyone, until next time.
P.s. My apologies for the lateness of this post since it’s no longer Thursday as I have promised to be sending out my weekly posts but actually Friday at 1 in the morning 🙂 Holiday preparations have nudged their way into my post writing schedule.