How not to make a New Year’s resolution

Heart of the matter

Heart of the matter

Just sayin’, New Year’s resolutions usually don’t last.

On January 1, 2018, all over this round multi-faceted world we’re stating resolutions.  We’re pleading, begging, praying, insisting, intending and focusing.  We’re gonna nail it THIS year.  We didn’t nail it in 2017, 2016, 2015, or 2014, but THIS year we shall succeed.

We shall exercise more.  Weigh less. We’ll get on the scales in February and weigh ten pounds less!  We won’t be bad and drink and those extra glasses of wine, shall we?  We won’t eat all those cookies, will we?  We won’t lose our temper as much, get angry at politics or fail to give to charity.

We’ll self-improve, darn it, we will!  We know all those disturbing elements of ourselves that get in the way of being a 100% (or 73.2%) good person.  Darn it, if we could just curb our excesses we would be happy!  We would die delighted on our death-bed, nodding, saying, yes–we succeeded in being the kind of human we wanted.

Just sayin’, dear reader, New Years resolutions usually don’t last.

Nature child


They last while our good intentions fuel up with energy and commitment and Sisu.  (Finnish word for grit, bravery, resilience–at least around these parts.  True Finns have scoffed at this interpretation in my blog; I am willing in advance to be chastised.)

So what are we to DO, my friends?

We want to be better, we do.

We want to improve, we do.

We want to cease our slovenly habits and approach our ideals.

We want peace before God or deathbed.

Birch bark curl

Perfection with imperfection

I don’t have the Answer (with a capital “A”) but I do have some suggestions based on things that seem to have worked for yours truly:

  1.  Notice.  Vow to notice, no matter what.  What goes in our mouths.  What comes out of our mouths.  What we do; what we don’t do.  Vow to watch.  Noticing goes a long way toward waking us out of our habitual slumbers.
  2. Be aware.  OK, my friend, I’m talking about noticing again in terms of awareness because it’s so damn important.  Be aware of what happens just before we reach to devour the entire box of candy.  Be aware of what we’re trying to avoid before we habitually self-destruct into an old pattern of reactivity. Stay as aware as possible, moment to moment.  This is the resolution-less resolution that works.  Awareness is Queen, my reader!
  3. Don’t avoid negative feelings by binging, drinking, gambling, oh you know the drill.  FEEL the negative feeling without a story.  Just stay close to the feeling without making it into a novella. I have learned so much in recent years how valuable it can be to feel negativity without thinking about the story.  This feeling of bare emotion can change SO MUCH in our lives.  It’s the story (yada, yada, yada) which perpetuates negativity forevermore.
  4. The resolution-less resolution can involve stating intent.  Stating what we want.  Noticing what else we seem to want even more.  And then really truly looking at why we want that other thing more than our original intent.  Don’t insist upon intent; rather, court intent.  Find out why we’re rejecting it in favor of another love.  That is key.  What is the other love that is operating in our actions?
  5. The resolution-less resolution can also mean accepting ourselves for who we are:  in our imperfect perfection.  THIS IS WHO WE ARE!  IN ALL OUR FOIBLES!  We can still wake up and try every single day to notice, to be aware, to feel our feelings, to state our intent, seeing what’s true in our daily actions.  But we can more fully embrace ourselves in who & what we are.  Here you have it, my friends.

Are you resolving, this New Years?  Have your resolutions worked in the past?  What would YOU say to your younger self, to a child, to your best friend who wanted to know how to be a better person in 2018? Have you discovered the secret of making a resolution-less resolution?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in January 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to How not to make a New Year’s resolution

  1. Amy says:

    “Court intent!” A fine mantra and command.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for reading, Amy. I liked that phrase as it came out of the typing fingers, as well. It did feel like a mantra–but not a command. More like a gentle suggestion, a whisper of possibility. 🙂

      • Amy says:

        Oh, I knew you might caution about the imperative tense, Kathy! But I liked to catch the phrase that way as well. . . . Sometimes it is nice to be bossed a bit, especially out of a place of wisdom.

  2. Sybil Nunn says:

    My resolutions in the past couple of years have worked; but they’ve been simple, like drinking more water or washing my hands more carefully or taking better care of my teeth Simple stuff.

    For this year I’ve decided to take five mind full breaths in and out before getting out of bed. And I want to think kind thoughts before I speak or type and I need to learn to listen…

    My resolutions are simple and maybe that’s why they’ve worked in the past.

    • Kathy says:

      I like that idea of mindful breaths before arising. I do something similar, Sybil. Maybe the simplicity of resolution is a key. Happy New Year!

  3. rehill56 says:

    I don’t do resolutions. I try to be better each day. One thing I got better at last year was “living in the moment.” I think it goes quite nicely with your suggestions to NOTICE, BE AWARE, INTENTION…and feeling emotions. When I make an effort to remember to live in the moment, worry evaporates and perfection and disappointment with failed resolutions is meaningless. I am striving for progress, not perfection. 💖 love your insight…

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, indeed “living in the moment” is a good one. I like that you added that! The present moment can feel so fulfilling just in itself. It IS often peace itself, especially if we can avoid our inner storyteller. Progress is realistic! Perfection never… Thank you for sharing. I am enjoying reading what others think about resolutions.

  4. This is so amazing and so true . I loved the article. And it is going to help me so much with my resolutions. Thank You

  5. debyemm says:

    I do have a couple of intentions which I am holding loosely. I already do know with the long-standing one what I favor more (and its not doing the accounting work that I am responsible for irregardless – I do intend to be more timely this year). It is true also that I prioritize values that do not always support achieving my intention.

    The other one should be a joy and the loosely held intention will either manifest or not and either way I’ll be happy. Just something I would like to do for the experience (pitch the book I’m working on next summer at the St Louis Writer’s Guild June conference).

    Other resolutions have never worked long-term. You are quite accurate in knowing that.

    Wishing you every success however you define that this 2018 New Year. HUGS and a huge fondness for how and who you are.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, I think you hit on something important here. Joy and loosely held intention. There is an ease that comes with that in relation to manifesting. I do think manifesting works; have seen it happen many times. But it’s usually when I’m not emotionally invested in a “negative” way. There is something about a resolution that hasn’t worked successfully for me, and I tried to touch on what *maybe* works here. However, am not sure after writing this post how well I succeeded in expressing it. Thank you for reading and commenting. Just re-reading your comment and wondering what “success” would look like in 2018. Food for thought. Thank you again.

      • debyemm says:

        Someone that I wished “success” for recoiled from that word but success need not mean greed, exploitation, etc. I think that was the energy it triggered in her. I view success quite broadly as in I made it to yoga in time to change clothes and not feel stressed about it. I go grocery shopping first and so there are all manner of events that can impact whether I’m early, late or right on time. The feeling of harmony is to me an indication of alignment with a comfortable flow in my life. Feeling out of harmony usually indicates something – and not necessarily that I am wrongly aligned but that I’m not aligned with some other aspect.

        • Kathy says:

          Deb, that is very interesting (once again) how words can trigger different energies for different people. I like the way success can be a very simple thing in your world. Not something huge. I am going to ponder alignment and harmony for a little while. Thank you.

  6. The Magic Village says:

    I enjoyed reading your text, Kathy. One thing I have to add is that “New Years” wishes can be archived as long as we don’t expect to be a miracle. I have in mind this one saying about the differences between important and unimportant things in life.

  7. Never, ever made a New Year’s Resolution. Living life was complicated enough without adding more stress each day.

    Wishing you whatever it is you wish for in this new year, most of all health and happiness.

  8. I’ve always been big on resolutions, mostly unsuccessfully. If I could advise a young person – or my younger self – I would share your words. This is a much better take on self-improvement, to pay attention to and appreciate this life. Perfect!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, thank you, I think you got what I was attempting to express. THANK YOU! Afterwards, it seems like there was a way to say it much easier. But, as you just said, just pay attention and appreciate this life. Paying attention and awareness isn’t really a strict resolution…just a gentle repeated nudge not to sleep through life with all our busy-ness.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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