I was having dinner with a long time friend, and we were talking about the idea of setting a "guiding word" at the beginning of the year. He's done it a few years in a row, and I was asking about his experience for my upcoming workshop.
"Well, this year I picked integrity." He rolled his eyes a bit, smiled and laughed. "Wish I would've thought harder about the implications of that." After a thoughtful pause, he continued, "I am really surprised by how much it trickles into all the areas of my life. I mean, it doesn't show a lot of integrity to hit the snooze button five times when your alarm goes off." He paused to take a bite of food and we ate in silence for a few minutes. "It was really challenging. Maybe this year I'll choose a word like 'fun' or 'relaxation'!" And we laughed and toasted a little cheers to that idea.
My friend was poking fun at himself and his word choice, but make no mistake that he takes himself and his commitments seriously. He is a person of integrity, so when he chooses a word, he means to live by it and considers it as he makes decisions both big and small.
I love this idea because my work as a life coach is all about helping people live with intention. So many of us become victims of default. Our decisions (or indecision) of the past created the circumstances we now find ourselves in. While we don't control everything that befalls us, we do control how we think about each circumstance and that, in turn, controls how we react and move on (or fail to).
Only 8% of New Year's Resolutions are successful. Why? Because we can't compartmentalize one aspect of our lives. You want to eat better? Great. You want to get stronger? Wonderful. Better relationships, more success at work, quality time with your kids? All honorable goals. What do all these things have in common that we often fail to recognize?
They ALL require a change in your thinking. Let's say you want to eat better. This takes a major shift in your habits and your thinking. Why do you eat poorly in the first place? If you lack awareness around your own thinking about food, you won't be able to sustainably change your diet. Likewise, if you want to start working out more regularly, but continue to talk yourself out of exercising with the same excuses, you will not be able to create a new fitness habit. Unhappy with your partner? How are you thinking about that person? Are you caught up in a cycle of noticing all his/her failings? Are you letting expectations shut you off from real opportunities to grow and connect in your relationship? Are you even aware of how your pattern of thinking affects your interactions?
I admire any action that encourages positive change. However, I understand how cycles repeat themselves. I understand how our habits become so ingrained that we don't even recognize their power over us. If you truly want to work toward a better version of yourself, don't just make a resolution. You have to live with intention. It is never too late to take control of your mind so that you can design a life worth living. Here are some suggestions: