The history of making resolutions is 4,000 years old! The first people to do it were the Babylonians. Originally, the practice of making a resolution (aka: making a commitment to act) was a religious one and focused more on keeping oneself in good favor with the gods.
Why does the history of resolutions matter ?
One of the most important things coaching asks of you is to acknowledge history and notice how it is operating in your life today. This brings awareness to your actions and the lived with, well-worn ways that are so ingrained you may not know you have them.
The beauty of THIS new year is that many of the well-worn habits you had when the clock struck 2020 were turned upside down by the ever-changing landscape of our pandemic focused year. Because so much of the way we live each day is still new (“new” as in – you’ve been doing it for less than 12 months vs. a lifetime of habits), 2021 offers us the opportunity to design the year ahead in ways we could have never imagined.
With the experience of 2020 firmly in our hearts and minds, taking time to imagine 2021 is without a doubt the most important thing you can do right now.
What does this mean for resolutions today?
It means there’s no need for resolutions unless that’s a part of your history that’s important for you to keep. In honor of the new world we live in and the invitation 2020 gave us to see and do just about everything in a new way – what if you approach this new year differently?
Instead of playing the, “do I or don’t I” game, take a vacation from resolutions and try one of these two ways to start 2021 instead:
1) Imagine your way forward:
Right now, I bet you can think of 3-5 things that you never imagined would be a part of your daily experience. Imagining your way forward means looking at what you never thought was possible and imagining it as a reality in the future.
Here’s the how to:
1) Reflect on what’s most important to you in 2021 and/or discuss it with others to get ideas.
2) Make a list of 3-5 things that you can imagine being grateful for having already happened this time next year. They can be ideas, experiences, new habits, new people or new work in your life…they can be any 3-5 things you want for 2021.
3) Look at your list and brainstorm actions and circumstances that can lead you to what’s on your list. These are not actions you have to take, and they give you an indication of what it will take to experience and receive what’s on your list.
In this approach to new year’s resolutions, you take hold of your experience by imagining what you want to happen in 2021. This gives you a litmus test you can perform each day to see if what you’re doing and the way you’re thinking is taking you towards your top 3-5 for 2021.
*One gift of this approach is that it allows you to check throughout the year (say quarterly?) to see if you still want the same things and/or how close you can get by years end. Revising your list based on your current circumstances is a MUST if you want to keep what’s on your list WHILE you keep working towards it!
2) Let language be your guide:
Right now, I bet you could come up with two words to describe your overall experience in 2020. Likewise, I bet you can also think of two words that describe what you want to experience in 2021. Language creates our daily reality and when you let language be your guide, you choose to include the people, places, experiences and actions that align with your 2021 words each and ever day.
Here’s your how to:
1) Using hindsight, choose two words that describe 2020 for you. Make sure to breathe as you do this step.
2) Then, take your time and choose two words that represent what you want to experience in 2021. Make sure not to rush this step.
3) Sit down and write exactly what your 2021 words mean to you including their definition (per you – doesn’t have to be what the dictionary says), what experiences they relate to, what color they’d be if they were a color…anything that comes to you and clarifies what your words mean.
4) Make a list of actions, experiences, places and people that you believe align with your words.
Then on a daily or weekly basis, take one action that supports your words for the year. For example, one of my words for 2021 is peace and kindness brings me peace. So, whenever I approach a challenging conversation, experience, or truth in my world, I’m going to lay on the kindness for both myself and others so that I can experience peace no matter what I face in 2021.
The Whole Truth
Returning to January again is always a new beginning and beginnings are not truly meant for action. Beginnings are a time for observing, noticing, learning and preparation. The season of winter is good for each of these as well.
At this time of year, when cold temps makes it feel good to stay in and be comforted with warmth and rest; I encourage you to try something new.
Whether you imagine your way forward, let language be your guide or create your own new way to approach this time and season – do something different.
No matter what steps you take to start this new year, choose each step from a place of power for you are in charge of what happens next – now and always.
Wishing you peace and harmony on your journey into 2021.