The major problem (besides consistency) I see with New Year’s (or any) resolutions is a misunderstanding of how change works and what it looks like. As a culture, we view change as daily, unwavering progress toward one’s goals. Often we visualize planners, throwing ourselves in 110% daily, lists, rock-solid determination, and a willingness and ability to overcome any obstacle in our path. We view ourselves as superheros on a path of a justice, ready to throw aside any hurdle or, at least, keep on in the face of the storm.
What we don’t allow for is the flip side of change: failure. Change and failure go hand-in-hand, like yin and yang. Each side of the coin has something to offer. Change allows us to come closer in alignment to who we want to be, and failure offers us lessons to guide us on the path.
Yet, as a culture, we view failure as unacceptable and shameful, and if you’re perfectionist or particularly hard on yourself (like I am), you view your self-esteem and self-worth as directly dependent on *not* failing.
Which means you cannot change. If we accept change, we must also understand and accept failure. They are both there to help us grow and become the person we want to be. Both are necessary to any resolution, goal, or dream.
So how does change occur? And what role does failure play? I’ll be looking at failure in more detail in a following post, but failure is a natural part of progress. It teaches us our limits, where we need to turn our attention, and allows us to learn new ways of viewing the world and new ways of doing things. When you fail, be kind to yourself and celebrate, if you can. Your failure means you are heading the right direction. It means you are growing, learning, and changing. It’s a sign your goal is slipping closer. Be kind, be gentle, turn inward, see what’s needed, and move toward whatever failure is trying to teach you.
As for change? I believe change is achieved by the consistent daily application of small habits over time. We’ll look more at consistency later, but note change isn’t necessarily a big leap in the right direction, a complete 180, or even large steps forward every day. It can be, but the most important word in that description is “consistent.” Note I also said “small habits.” These are small daily habits that collectively move you toward your large goal. When you first turn a ship around, you might feel as if you’re going nowhere. You might even lose your grip on the wheel. But even those small movements eventually get you turned around and sailing in the right direction. Sure, the engine may fail sometimes, but that teaches you how to fix it or even make it stronger, get it back up and running, and continue onward.
What Do You Think?: How do you view change? What concept about change do you find the most difficult to embrace as you move forward? What concepts about change do you embrace naturally?