In recent years, I’ve stopped making new year’s resolutions. Why? Because they are meant to be broken and to set ourselves up for failure.
You’re thinking to yourself, “What kind of person who coaches people would say something like that?” And I would say, that is the BEST question, ever!
Okay, so here’s the deal. Here’s the truth. Ready?
New year’s resolutions are an accumulation of our “would LIKE to haves” that we often WANT to change or improve, but rarely see them through to manifestation.
These resolutions are usually executed early on in the calendar year when we’re feeling the most ambitious and then quickly neglected by us by the end of the year when we’ve lost the energy to keep up. Then with every subsequent year, we throw these items back on our list again only to rinse and repeat, and rinse and repeat.
So, why then do we keep doing this every single year? Why do we keep setting ourselves up for this failure?
We are creatures of habit, that’s why. And it’s not a bad thing. It actually can be a good thing, especially when you’re trying to create a new habit that will better serve you.
I think it’s a great idea to have ambitious goals, both long and short range, and to strive to change and improve. However, I think there is harm in exhausting our time and energy striving to commit to something we truly don’t want. Let me repeat that in case you missed that.
LIFE SPARK MOMENT –> I think there is harm in exhausting our time and energy striving to commit to something we truly don’t want.
So let me break that down for you.
I know that 2011 was a whirlwind for a lot of people, including myself, and I have observed a lot of patterns that have taught me some profound lessons this year. I want to share them with you here hoping you can glean something from these experiences that I’m sure we all similarly shared this year.
1. FAIL TO SUCCEED
I’ll set this one up with one of my favorite poems that, even though I hold it close to my heart, pisses the crap out of me. From Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam:27, 1850:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
After being ignorantly and blissfully single for almost four years, I opened my mind and heart to a man earlier this year and entered into a relationship with the intention of it being serious and committed only to find that he just wasn’t that into me in the end. Though he didn’t have the balls, heart, or whatever you want to call it, to tell me such, and as much as it has hurt and angered me that I had to do a ton of work to figure this out, I am not regretful or resentful.
Don’t get me wrong. I AM human, so I have been grieving like any one would after the death of something. I have cried. I have gotten upset. I have felt sorry for myself. I have also smiled. I have also laughed. I have also never felt more liberated in my life.
And even though it can’t get more personal than this, I still cannot take it personally. We all experience sh!t in life as stepping stones to shape us to be the person we are evolving into because it’s preparing us for something else. Experience, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, is necessary in order for us to improve.
Sometimes, we have to relinquish control and fight the need to be perfect. We must not let ourselves linger in something that doesn’t serve our health or well-being just because we fear failure. It is highly likely we won’t ever get it right the first time, whatever “it” is, so it’s our job to fail and learn what NOT to do so that we can keep improving and growing. But we can’t do that if we are not learning.
We must fail to succeed.
2. EMBRACE YOUR UNIQUENESS
Be not afraid to go out into the world being your genuine and authentic you! Another favorite that exemplifies this very notion, a quote by Judy Garland:
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
It’s interesting that we live in a very individualistic society here in the United State of America. And yet, we still have the human tendency to follow the status quo. Now, I am not saying we need to challenge every societal norm or to exude an edge that doesn’t feel genuine to us. What I’m saying is that if we have that urge, be-it the unbearable burning flame in our gut or the heart-pounding pain in our chest, we must let it come to the surface.
Do not suppress it. Embrace it. Give birth to it.
I can guarantee you, you will fight the beast every single day until you deal with it. So, why wait to be the best version of you next year and the following? Do it, now.
Embrace your uniqueness and in the process, YOU will be rediscovered.
We live in a safe world. Everywhere around us, our family, friends, and confidants are typically telling us to play it safe. They mean well, I truly believe they do. They are looking out for us. They are trying to protect us from harm or disappointment. But, in the process, they are also hindering us from daring to take some risks that can actually help us.
Most people don’t know why they do this. Basically, what’s happening is that they are internalizing your situation, which brings out their own fears, and transferring that onto you with the advice they offer you. For example, my mom to this day still doesn’t understand the concept of coaching and she is still crossing her fingers, hoping and praying that I find myself a full-time job as a secretary. The punch line here is that I haven’t been a secretary since I was 19! But, she doesn’t know that nor is she interested in these facts. My mom loves me, but she can’t stand the risks I take day in and out as a solo entrepreneur. I get that and I don’t blame her for the long-winded advice and hour long lectures.
What’s important to note here is that it is our job to use our critical thinking skills and use discernment as we are making decisions that will impact us. There’s harm in being too naïve and listening to everything others tell you. There’s also harm in being too skeptical or cautious and not taking heed when you are receiving insight from others.
It’s about balancing both extremes and daring to take risks when you feel compelled to despite what others think, feel, or say.
4. SEEK KNOWLEDGE WITH AN OPEN MIND AND OPEN HEART
The biggest problem I believe is that we often think it’s not okay to ask questions because we fear being called stupid or being intrusive. The quote that perfectly drives this point home is one of my all time favorites by Epictetus:
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
Growing up I used to be very shy, and more introverted than I am now. I was never a straight “A” student, which I don’t regret, but I always had the potential to be. One of the main reasons I know I wasn’t was because I was afraid to ask questions. I grew up believing that someone who asked questions looked and sounded stupid for not already knowing what they didn’t know, so they shouldn’t be asking the question. Well, ask me how that helped me when I had to figure something out I didn’t know and was afraid to ask?
Yeah, it wasn’t really effective.
I had to learn the hard way, but over time, I learned to be comfortable asking more questions. It is how we obtain new information, gain clarity and find our own perspective in life, work and love. This is how we learn about ourselves, about others, and how to make better decisions.
This one is fairly simple.
Ask and you shall receive. Seek knowledge and do it with an open mind and open heart. You can only get better as a result.
5. ALIGN YOUR WORDS WITH ACTION
If you’ve been following my posts all year, I know you’ve heard me say this before: you must be intentional and deliberate with your words and actions in order to manifest for you all the things you truly want to achieve.
You THINK you want something. You THINK you want to change or improve an area of your life. But year after year, you never complete it. Why? Because you either don’t truly want it badly enough or because you are afraid of something.
For example, if you are a foodie and you want to eat as you please but you need to lose weight, then don’t go on that fad diet that removes your water weight temporarily. Go work out. Go walking or running. Play the Wii!
Whatever you do, don’t create more work for yourself by lying to yourself that you’re not going to eat carbs only to find yourself gaining twice the weight later in the year because you were deprived and then binged. I’m gonna give it to you straight here. If you really want it, just do it! If not, then don’t! (If Nike paid me a royalty for every time I say this to my clients, friends and family, I would be a millionaire!)
Not only will this help you to achieve greater success, it will help you to garner respect for yourself and from others because you’re not full of empty promises.
Bottom line: hold your words with integrity by taking action that aligns with them.
6. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE AND LOVE
Love yourself. And if you don’t, then fall back in love with yourself.
Forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made. Stop criticizing and judging what you could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve done. Let go. Be kind to yourself.
We already live in a super critical world, why add to all that negativity and drama?
How can we ever expect anyone to love us or treat us with a certain regard when we’re not holding ourselves in that same regard?
Far too often we seek love and validation from others when the whole entire time we were the ones truly holding ourselves back from receiving the love we deserve.
I know that this one is going to be the most uncomfortable lesson learned for everyone to acknowledge and apply. Why do I know this? Because I have struggled all my life with this one. It’s a doozy, this one.
However, I can say with 100% certainty that it is possible. How do I know this?
Because this is the greatest lesson I have been taught in my 35 years of life thus far. Every single time undesirable circumstances present themselves in my life, such as my recent break up, I get extremely irked and ask the question out loud, “Why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” Then I quickly respond to myself, like a crazy lady, “Crap, fine, I know that the silver lining story will present itself to me some day when I least expect it.” And then, it actually does.
And here’s the kicker (<—pun intended): all that crap had to happen to me in order for me to confidently say in your face that I have become an authority in shin kicking you and providing you with a life spark to “help you fall back in love with yourself to attract the life, work and love that makes you excited to wake up every morning without an alarm clock,” because I have tested, tried, failed and succeeded in this firsthand.
COMMIT TO THREE THINGS THIS YEAR (EVERYTHING ELSE IS GRAVY)
So I took advice from a reading I received from my spiritual adviser Theresa Reed and a blog post written by one of my small business mentors (and #CousinsOfBerniXiong) Chris Brogan. I implore you to do the same, if ya want.
Rather than pulling out my laundry list of the things I resolve to do in this upcoming new year, I chose three words and a theme song this year to remind me of the things I want to focus on in 2012.
Here it is in its original and raw form:
Word One: FORWARD
Word Two: COMPASSION
Word Three: WORRY
Theme Song: “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J
I have yet to reflect on this a little more and solidify a plan of action as it relates to these themes. I will definitely be sharing that in a future blog post. In the mean time, I at least wanted to start here to give you a glimpse inside this head and heart of mine hoping it can help you in some way, shape or form.
Looking forward to another great year and the opportunity to keep learning, growing, and evolving as a person and professional with all of you!
Wishing you all a safe and happy new year! Let the shin kicking begin!