Quick Note: Happy Freaking New Year everyone!!! 2012 is going to be freaking epic. Awesome. Unbelievable. Stupendous. Fantabulous. The. Best. Year. Ever. I’ve got so many wonderful things in store for you this year, I’m bursting at the seams to get going after my super-duper spa holiday. Watch this space, y’all. It’s going to be so worth it. Yay! 🙂
It’s that time of year. A brand spanking new year has begun, unsullied, clean, ready to be molded into whatever we want it to be. Every year at the beginning of January, we set New Year’s resolutions. We may even set Goals. We plan to quit smoking, to finally lose those 10 pounds (or 20 or 30…), and to learn how to speak fluent Portuguese. We plan to go to the gym every day, and volunteer at the homeless shelter, to stop being workaholics, to leave random love notes around the house for our honey to find (because we saw that on Oprah and it sounds like a great idea), to smile at strangers on the street for no reason (because we love the idea of being THAT person), to pay for the coffee of the guy behind us in line once a week just to make someone’s day, and to never, EVER get stressed again. Starting January 2nd, we’re going to become RAW vegans and meditate daily, no, TWICE daily, and we’ll use our vacation time to go to India and work with orphans. Maybe we’ll quit our jobs and finally write that novel and dedicate ourselves to saving the planet. We will become perfect, enlightened beings, who walk about barefoot and in flowy linen clothes, with a permanent, serene smile on our faces, leaving everyone we meet to wonder what our secret is and how we got so freaking happy. Yes, this is the year that we will completely and totally change everything about ourselves, and finally achieve perfection. We are full of hope, full of enthusiasm for the future. The possibilities are endless. This will be our year, damn it!
Enter January 3rd. We find ourselves hiding out in the bathroom to avoid the family, chain smoking and horking down donuts like they contain the antidote to a lethal poison we just ingested. We had a massive fight with our sweetie in the morning, and instead of leaving love notes about the house, we had the distinct urge to stab them with a fork at the breakfast table. Repeatedly. That serenity we were hoping to achieve has been replaced with homicidal tendencies and a nervous tick. How great would it be to get a monster truck and just plow our way through the morning traffic? Surely, if we restricted ourselves to crushing just the BMW drivers, no one could really blame us, could they?
Every year we decide to become Mother Theresa (only with better hair) and every year we fail miserably. But it’s not our fault. It’s the damn system. New Year’s resolutions simply don’t work. By setting New Year’s resolutions, we are actually setting ourselves up for failure. That’s right: We are virtually guaranteed to fail. And then we beat ourselves up for being weak and unable to change.
Well, I say, no more. I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions years ago, and I’ve been happier, more productive and much more successful since. Want to know my secret? Of course you do. And because I’m such a nice person (with GREAT hair), I’m going to give it to you.
There’s nothing magic about January 1st
First of all, I have to point out that there’s nothing inherently special or magic about the end or beginning of the year. It’s simply a convenient time to take stock, do a review of where we are, where we were a year ago and where we want to be one year from today. It’s a great time to set a milestone. You can and should do this exercise at any time throughout the year. So the pressure we feel to get things done by December 31st is completely arbitrary and self imposed. Let’s cut that crap out right now, shall we?
The secret is to continuously work towards improvement (and we’ll define “improvement” in just a second), instead of shelving our goals and then doing a mad sprint to accomplish them by the end of the year (and subsequently beating up on ourselves when we fail to meet this unrealistic expectation), or alternatively, to set hugely unrealistic goals, only to abandon them minutes or hours later (the self flagellation remains).
It’s about how you feel
Although I do make a little list of what I’d like to accomplish in the coming year, my only REAL goal, my only REAL measure of success, is the answer to this question: “Do I feel better right now, than I did at this time last year?” I ask myself if I’m in better emotional shape than I was a year ago (again, an arbitrary but useful milestone). And if the answer is yes, I’m happy with my progress. Notice, that I don’t try to measure HOW MUCH better I feel. I don’t focus on how that feeling has manifested. Am I happier? If the answer is yes, I’ve basically done my job as a human being. If not, I simply didn’t focus on my goal throughout the year and I would vow to do better in the coming twelve months. I say “would”, since that’s never happened since I’ve begun to measure my success this way. Once I set the intention to feel better each year, I very naturally began to manifest all kinds of ways that helped me to do that. I didn’t go from miserable to happy in one jump, but I steadily improved. And isn’t that what we really want?
Why do you want to quit smoking? Because it doesn’t feel good for you to think of yourself as a smoker. You don’t like the associated feelings you have about smoking (being unhealthy, stinky, a nuisance, an outcast who has to stand outside with all the other outcasts to shamefully puff away…) You think you’ll be happier if you quit smoking. Why do you want to lose weight? Because you hate feeling fat. You don’t like feeling out of shape and squeezed into your clothes like a bound sausage. You want to feel sexy and slim and attractive and healthy. You think you’ll be happier if you’re thin. Everything you want to do is only on your list because you think it’ll make you happier. So why not just go for the happiness?
Oh, I know. You’re thinking “If I don’t set specific goals they won’t get done.” You’ve probably been setting New Year’s resolutions for years. How’s that been working out for you? Have you lost those 10 pounds yet?
As I said, although my main measure of success how happy I am overall, I do make a little list of things I’d like to accomplish every year. Only, this list doesn’t look anything like a list of resolutions. You can definitely be more specific about what you want, but it’s good to focus on what you REALLY want, instead of the actions you think you need to take to get there. The idea here is to set Intentions not make resolutions. These intentions should be about the feeling you’re trying to reach, not action items you think you need to force yourself to take. And they (the intentions) should feel good. Most of the time, our resolutions feel awful, because they activate the exact opposite of what we truly want. Let me give you some examples:
Resolution: I will finally lose those 10 stinking pounds this year.
Underlying thought: I hate my stupid, fat, uncooperative body.
Intention: I will feel better about my body this year. I will feel healthier and more attractive. I will learn to like my body more.
Notice that I used words like “better” and “healthier” and “like more” instead of “good” and “healthy” and “love”. Why? Because, unless you’re close to actually loving your body, these lofty goals are going to trigger major resistance. If I ask you “Can you feel better about your body? Even just a little bit better?”, you’re probably going to concede that yes, you can. But if I ask you “Can you LOVE your body?”, you may well think “Sure, if I lose 50 pounds and get plastic surgery and have my brain transplanted into someone else’s body.” If you’re simply aiming for improvement instead of perfection, you trigger a lot less backlash.
Ok, let’s do another one:
Resolution: I will quit smoking this year.
Underlying thought: I will stop being a weak, spineless, unhealthy addict. I will finally get my family and friends to shut the hell up about it. I will stop being embarrassed about the only freaking pleasurable thing I have left in my life, but that others (oppressive assholes), who really have no right to tell me what to do, want to take away from me.
Intention: I will focus on my health this year, on becoming healthier and feeling better in my own skin. I want to breathe easier and feel more comfortable in public. I will learn to reduce my stress in ways that I can feel good about and I will stop tying how I feel about myself to what others think (You’re focusing on how YOU feel, not on the injustice or on how others view you.)
If you continuously make improvements to how you feel, instead of focusing on arbitrary actions, you could well find yourself sitting down one December 31st, ready to make your yearly list, only to realize that you’ve slipped into a state of happiness. You may not be clad in linen, walking barefoot around Calcutta, handing out love and flowers. You may not have the perfect body, or the prefect relationship or the perfect job. And yet, inexplicably, you’ll still somehow have found happiness and joy. You’ll celebrate your achievements and how far you’ve come since the last milestone, instead of beating yourself up for what didn’t go well last year and for the fact that you’ve fallen short of where you wanted to be. Did you progress? Did you improve? Did you learn anything? Did you grow? Are you happier? Then pat yourself on the back and do the happy dance.
Are you happier now than you were a year ago? How have you progressed since January 2011? What do you wish to feel better about in 2012? Share in the comments!
This post is awesome and yes I would not regret anyone crushing those BMWs that cause addition to the already crazy morning traffic jams. I too plan resolutions but the year takes too long to end and the resolutions are too weary, so lets see if I manage to stick to the resolutions this year?
LOL. I used to have this theory that people who bought BMW’s were made to take a special “asshole driver” class… He, he.
If you have to “stick” to them, then you’ve chosen resolutions that seem like hard work for you. Try making it about moving towards something rather than away from something. Then, let the Universe guide you to the actions that will take you where you want to go. 🙂
Hello back in the new year, Melody!
Funny, what you describe – looking back to estimate the progress you´ve made – I did my whole life through, without any concious idea behind that; I guess everyone is doing so instinctively in one way or another.
Is it failure when life turns out to be completely different to what we´ve fancied it to be? My upshot sounds: Define everything a success, no matter how it may look. As long as you live your life consciously and with eyes open, it´ll lead you to places where you need to go. Trust it.
Outside of certain phases we go through in our lifes, we don´t feel happier, as we felt in former times, we just experience other perspectives, ones which reveal to us new things we had been wanting to know about. No recurrences, but the availabitity of everything at everytime – our choices.
Last year availed me a lot, heaving myself out of some existential matters. But: the shivers it gives me by looking back on it only shows me, that I´ve missed the point again! Don´t judge by appearances! Got it, got it.., yeah, got it… 😉
Thank you! Happy New Year!
We absolutely do this stuff instinctively. We don’t have to understand it, in order for it to work. Otherwise, none of us would be here. No one would’ve ever evolved. LOL.
I don’t consider it a failure if your life turned out differently than you planned. It just means that you followed your intuition and adapted as the situation required it. You went where life took you, where your energy took you and were open to change. This is a good thing, from my view.
I love that: Consider everything a success. That’s a great way to live. I keep reminding myself that everything that happens to me, serves me. None of it is random or wasted and none of it is bad for me. I just have to be willing to look at it that way. Everything is a success. I may have to steal that. *grin*
I don’t think you’ve missed the point. The point is to get ever closer to the point. So, you didn’t miss it. Ha!
Great post as usual Melody! And yes you do have beautiful, shiny hair!
I never thought about looking at New Years Resolutions that way… good food for thought.
I actually didn’t set any this year BUT I was just starting to think maybe I should have… I love your perspective, now I know a better way. 🙂
I love the idea of just carving it down to aiming for happiness, to be happier next year than I am this year. What a wonderful and reachable aim! What a lovely way to grow. 🙂
Happy New Year!
Thank you so much. I’m glad the post provided some clarity. Happiness is the ultimate goal. Always. Even if we don’t realize it. When we cut out the middle man and allow the Universe to take care of the details, life gets so much easier and more fun. 🙂
Oh, Melody, you do make me laugh! This year is the first time that I made a conscious decision not to make any New Year resolutions, so your post was right on target for me. Although I have to say I will still list some goals I want to try and attain. And if I don’t finish everything, that is okay, as long as I am working on them.
Wishing you the very best.
I’m glad to be of service, milady. 😉
That’s a wonderful stance to take – focus on where you want to go and don’t put too much pressure on how or when you get there. As long as you’re steadily moving in the right direction, you’ll make it.
Huge hugs to you,
I’m going with option B! 🙂
Ha, ha Pete! Bigger basket, bigger jeans, it’s all good. If you have to get a bigger couch, you might want to rethink that… LOL.
Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! 🙂
I agree with you. There is nothing magical about the end or the beginning of a year. It is merely the natural cycle of things. Any change we want to make to our lives has to be natural enough for us to stick to it and something we can carry out in the long run with little effort. Knowing why we want to do something is certainly a good way to help us focus on what we really want.
I have foreseen and know that 2012 will be a year where I have to “Bite Through” many obstacles. It’s not a pleasant reading to get, trust me, but it is the reality I have to face to achieve my goals. Thus my word to guide me through 2012 is “Perseverance.” I know I will need a lot of perseverance to “Bite Through” all the obstacles that stand in my way. As long as I keep improving and moving forward each day, I know I will be happier.
Thank you for sharing this lovely article!
Irving the Vizier
Hey Irving! Happy New Year to you, too!
Time is really speeding up right now and the energy is rising rapidly. That means that resistance is going to start showing up faster, bigger, badder. My advice to you would be to practice the state of allowing. It REALLY helps to surpass that resistance faster and with a lot less bruising. I’ve been getting beaten up myself lately. Of course, I want this and even set intentions to release as much as possible, but man, it can feel a bit like being in a war zone sometimes. I’m guessing that a lot of people feel that way right now…
Thank you Irving and Melody!
I’ve been feeling this way too, and wondered if I was imagining the shift of energy. It’s felt uncomfortably powerful since I woke up on Jan 1, and it seems so odd that it would shift so suddenly. And it feels like the energy keeps ramping and ramping. Whew! Deep breath…
Thank you, Melody, for sharing the notion of resistance rising with the energy – that helps me keep the negative feelings in perspective. Wouldn’t it be nice if they dissipate sooner rather than later?! The resistances, that is… Breathing and allowing…
Thank you both for opening up this topic. I imagine we’ll have a lot to talk about this year.
Right on Mary Carol. I guess this would make another great blog post… 🙂
I stopped making resolutions a few years back. To me, one day leads to the other. There is no next year. I behave as that person that I want to be. I am never the same person twice anyway.
Ooh, Jim, that’s awesome. “I’m never the same person twice, anyway.” I love that! I’ve been exploring the temporary nature of everything lately. How nothing is permanent, how we (and everything) are always in flux, becoming, evolving. So, we don’t need to get stressed out about anything. We always think “what if this never goes away/lasts forever/never gets better?” But that’s bullshit. Thanks for being a manifestation for me! 🙂
Happy New Year, and welcome back! I’ve always enjoyed New Year’s resolutions. Your wording change to “intentions” probably explains why. I set an intention before each yoga session, and sometimes when I wake up. Often, my intention is gratitude. Life is just basically awesome!
At the end and beginning of the year, I like to reflect and project some overall intentions. This year I’m intending continued and even better health, and to explore becoming a healer. I love the Spanish word, curandera. Maybe I’m a curandera, and if so, it’s time. It all fits together – healthy and filled with light = healer = me! It feels like last year I was exploring and becoming, and this year it’s time to be.
Reflecting back on 2011, your columns and blogs have made a huge difference in my life. Thank you, Melody! More than anything, your insistence that happiness = energy = vibration has seeped into my consciousness and transformed everything.
Much love and many hugs,
Happy New Year Mary Carol! It’s great to be back!
Thank you so much for your wonderful words, chica. Trust me on this, you are definitely a curandera! There are all kinds of healers. Your presence heals those you come in contact with. I love that you’re going to explore this more!
Abrazos y besitos,
Yes, indeed, most resolutions go to waste because people are making them with a negative energy of urgency, and feeling good about it goes right out of the window. I think that having the goal to feel better is a much better approach. I completely agree with you.
Thanks Sylviane! Happy New Year to you!
For the most part, I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. I find that they just get lost in the shuffle of daily life and eventually you find that you’re way behind on them or given up on them altogether. I try to make consistent daily progress on becoming a better person instead of grand goals at the beginning on the year. It’s basically a slow and steady pace.
I like the idea of just asking yourself if you’re better off at the end of the year. New Year’s should be more of a time for reflection on everything you’ve done instead of a beginning to resolutions that don’t go anywhere.
Hey Steve! Happy New Year!
Consistent progress will lead you a lot further than trying to achieve huge jumps once or twice a year (a lot of people do this same thing during vacation or as a result of a big life change, like a death or a friend getting married, etc.) Just like you can’t get in shape by working out like a demon for one day, you have to progress towards your life goals a little at a time. Wonderful.
Perfect timing, as always. Here’s the thing about New Years and New Years Eve: it’s a beautiful time of year that lets us reflect on what we’ve done over the last 12months and how we want to utilize the next 12. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s merely a checkpoint and a time to unwind, relax, gather your energy, and welcome the 1 of January with open arms. Unfortunately, we as a population are forced to be results-driven. At work, at school, in life. And this mentality causes a LOT of people to resent the end of December more than they actually should.
There’s a lot of resistance around this time. Although it’s decorated as a wonderful, cozy time (and it really is), plenty of folk compare where they are with others, with how the media portrays this time of year, and with where they want to be (or think they’re supposed to be). “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a sexier girlfriend to share Christmas with?” “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a new car to drive to work in January?” “I should have used the last 12months more effectively!” The irony is the belief that we’re SUPPOSED to be happy at this time of year creates a lot of internal conflict. We struggle to live up to the media’s portrayal of the New Year, or we think we HAVE to hit 5 clubs on New Years Eve because hey, that’s what Mark and Mindy are doing this year! They said so on Facebook. We can’t stay home with family like a bunch of losers, we have to go get hammered and have a threesome because….well, just because. That’s what 26 year old urban youth do…..right?
And that’s where resolutions come in. We jot down these huge, huge goals that are merely results of our insecurities and panic-attacks. We are so hellbent on living up to superficial standards and norms that have been set by the whoevers and whatevers that we literally abuse ourselves with ridiculous goals that we don’t even really want. Then we fail, then the cycle repeats. Again and again. When we feel a little ‘unfulfilled’ around Christmas or the New Year, we panic. Go bonkers. Make up lists. You get the picture.
I’ve never been a fan of resolutions, but at the end of December 2010 I made a single mental note; that I would feel absolutely great on December 31 2011. For a few years before that I would feel unsatisfied, low, and kinda regret not doing enough. That didn’t happen this time. On December 31 2011 I felt great. I welcomed the New Year watching fireworks over the skyline with my family and enjoyed it. I didn’t regret anything. I didn’t wonder “What if”. I was just happy that I had fun in 2011. I learned a lot. And I want 2012 to be even better. That’s pretty much all that matters right now, and all the extras that come my way are cool bonuses. Do I have goals? Hell yes. But what’s the point of having goals if you’re gonna’ suffer all the way in order to get them, right? As long as you can have fun getting where you want to get, goal or no goal, you’ll be fine. At least, that’s my state of mind right now. 🙂
Thanks for adding this testimonial! It’s so great that you set an intention and then you realized it. It really does happen like that. When we let go of all the arbitrary bullshit and just go for what we REALLY wanted all along, which is to be happy, happiness shows up. We just have to stop defining how it has to show up. That’s all.
Bug squishy hugs!
January 3rd…perfect timing here – I woke up gloomy gus, stuffy nose, dripping eyes, hugely swollen face, puffiness, and could not breath all night….I pulled my walking gear on and insisted that I head out for the whole 3 miles and pup too…
I focused on my new shoes, that it was not raining and that pink camilia I saw in bloom already…my jacket was too warm…
I even have the spousal disappointment – as he feels too old to do more traveling and as if his bucket list is nearly complete – but especially in the travel area. I haven’t even gotten started yet….discouraging and he is so depressed all the time….how dare he?
First I headed to my blog to catch up…another great book review running…then I cleaned all the spam and junk out of the box…and deleted several newsletters about new resolutions. I do not do those either. Then I headed right here….
Yep I think I will just go for the happiness and maybe a week at a fancy spa someplace other than HERE…
When the mail arrives I have a DVD…so I want to get several tasks completed before I curl up and am entertained….I have some of my homemade chicken and Quinoa soup to warm up and a lovely hunk of my favorite bread …..and grapefruit….I have started sneezing and letting go of the congestion and am feeling happier already….
I am very happy for your nudge today….It could have gone another direction quite quickly because all my underwear is in the washer and I have a miserable set on – and “we all know if everything is not right it is because your underwear is too tight! ”
It is just another day …. nothing as grand as world peace 🙂
Thank you for your good words
Hahaha Patricia! Yep. I hear ya on the undies. Nothing worse than a bad fitting pair of panties. They can ruin your whole day… 😉
Isn’t it great how we start to feel better the second we start to focus on better feeling things? LOA rocks! 🙂
Thanks for your comment! Happy, happy New Year hug!
Love it…great post. I have been in this same mindset. New Year’s resolutions are not for me either. Instead, I like to focus on New Days rather than New Years. Each day is a beautiful day to make our intentions. We wake up to a clean slate daily. I love your intentions which focus on feeling better, happier, etc than at a certain point in the past. It is happiness that is the desired end result of our wanting the weightloss, more money, and the many other external things we seek. It is indeed a New Day (and so is tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and so on, and so on, and son on).
Happy New Year Kim!!!! Yep, every day is the beginning of a new year. Every day is a chance to improve just a little bit, move just a little bit closer to who we want to be.
Squoosh! (Sound of a hug),
One time I hurt my arm playing softball. I went to the doctor and he moved my arm around and lifted it up over my head. He asked ‘does it hurt when you do this’? I said ‘ow, yes it hurts’. His reply ‘well, don’t do that’. The purpose of this story? My resolution is whatever I have been doing really well, then I’m going to keep doing it. Whatever was sucking eggs, then I will quit. How’s that?
Fortunately, I lead a healthy lifestyle other than eating too much. But it’s healthy food for the most part and I am fairly active so that should count for something. Plus, long ago I realized the more comfortable I was in my own skin, the less I had to worry about those things that don’t really matter.
I’m here to enjoy the journey; if I have to eat a lot of crap I don’t like or it doesn’t taste good, no thank you. I respect the vegan lifestyle, but man o man are they missing out on some good eats. All I have to say is, I’m high enough up on the food chain to make my own choices and it weren’t supposed to be eaten, it wouldn’t taste so good.
That probably wasn’t politically correct, but my blood type is O and they were the original carnivores, so it is genetically embedded in me. It wasn’t my choice, I just showed up.
Wow, not only did I get off track, I made sure this was all about me.
Yes, if you continually try to improve and feel mo’ better about yourself today than you did a year ago then you are definitely moving in the right direction.
Law of Attraction – hang with like minded people.
Hawt hair too? Goodness…………
Wow Bill. Well, I’ve spoken to the council of intuitive eaters who happen to eat like Vegans right now (membership: 1) and we/I’ve decided that you can have all the meat you want. So, unbunch your panties my friend. No one is going to take away your meat. *dirty laugh*
I actually have no problem with carnivores. I eat whatever I like. That just happens to not include beef or pork or chicken at the moment. Although, about 2 weeks ago, I started to want eggs again, after a year of not wanting them. I eat whatever my body tells me to. If I wake up tomorrow wanting a steak, I will go and find myself a happy cow and slice me off a piece. A nice filet, perhaps. Until that happens, I don’t feel I’m missing anything (I’m not denying myself anything).
Oh and politically correct doesn’t fly around here. I’ve made jokes about midget punching (which for the record, I do not condone. Unless it’s consensual. Midgets gets to be freaks, too). The field is pretty much wide open after that.
You may have gotten off track, but I supplied the 4 wheel drive vehicle. Wahoo mathafakkas!
Good to be back!
Love and hugs,
Dang it Melody, when I DM’d you about that panties thing I didn’t think you were going to bring it up in a post…………
All is fair in love and love, Bill. 🙂
Happy new year. 🙂
this post was cool…
Happy New Year to you, too!!! 🙂