Start Your New Year with Steps Toward Empowerment!

Happy New Year! I’m hoping that your holidays have been joyous and filled with family, friends, and fun, and that 2014 is filled with wonder and wellness.

And if you’re like 90% of the world, you’re probably beginning the year with a list of resolutions in your shiny new calendar… Maybe something like this:

Resolved: in the next 365 days, I will diet and exercise… stick to a budget… manage time effectively…end hunger…eradicate disease… and accomplish world peace!

Of course the last three of those resolutions are just a smidge over the top…but what’s wrong with the first three? Aren’t they the same commitments that nearly everyone makes…year after year?

Yes, they are…and that’s the trouble. Not that you want to achieve these goals, but that just about everyone tries to accomplish them in the same way…

By making resolutions. And because resolutions are made to be rebelled against, they’re just about as effective as those last three world-shaking aspirations.

What’s that — resolutions are made to be rebelled against??

I like to say that resolutions are channeled from our inner drill sergeant…the shadowy adult in our past who would never be satisfied. They’re built on a foundation of “I’m not enough” or “I’m lacking” and re-solving to solve the problem/defect/lack, rather than affirming and intending your highest good. And our souls recognize that underlying message, and refuse to accept it.

Just listen to the meta-messages of fear and not-enoughness that underlie these common resolutions, and you’ll see what I mean…

I will diet/exercise — let’s not even get into the shame messages of “fat/lazy” that drive these resolutions! Ideals regarding weight and fitness carry enormous baggage in our society of anorexic, Photoshopped models; even when we believe we’re doing everything for the right reasons, that old message of shame slides in. And we start feeling that it’s simpler just to avoid the whole issue…(where is that remote, anyway? )

I will stick to a budget — Don’t the very words sound punitive? They call to mind Ebenezer Scrooge, doling out meager pleasures with an eyedropper and begrudging every one. The Ghost of Christmas Present didn’t walk the malls with a calculator and price list in hand, did he? Just the thought of budgeting is enough to send us off to the mall for some retail therapy…

I will manage time effectively — Whether you’re dodging onto Facebook or checking your email every 10 minutes – whether you’re chronically procrastinating, or multitasking to the point of being unable to finish any project — struggles with time management are epidemic these days. Nearly all of us feel that we should be far more productive than we are….and whether we admit it or not, we know where our time-sinks lie. And they are sooo comforting….

And therein lies the trouble! As long as we’re resolving to turn aside from temptation, the temptations remind us of just how pleasant they are, and how bleak our chosen strategies are…

So what do you do about it? Clearly a healthy, fit body, money in the bank, and free time in the day are good things that you want in your future, right?

Of course they are. And so I invite you to work toward these goals not as resolutions but as intentions.

What’s the difference? Where resolutions are fixing a lack, driven by fear and shame, intentions start by affirming your enoughness and highest good. They can be so empowering and inspiring, you’ll want to repeat them every morning as affirmations!

For example, let’s look at that diet and exercise resolution again…

I see my body whole, healthy, and fit. I make choices that support my perfect body. This intention puts the focus on the vision you desire, and empowers the decision-making process to get there. Rather than locking you into the same well-worn series of options you’ve tried before, it opens up the door to all sorts of choices. Perhaps, rather than working with a personal trainer, you’ll work with a nutritionist, a kitchen consultant, or a wellness coach!

How about the budget resolution? Let’s try this:

I have access to all the money I need for my needs, desires, and future. I earn, save and spend consciously, keeping the big picture in mind. This starts out with the idea that you have access to enough; you’re not limited to your salary. Money management is just a balancing act, one that you are capable of doing. How much more empowering this is than the inner Scrooge with his candlelit ledger!

But what about that time management question? Let’s try reframing it thusly:

I cherish the hours of my day as an irreplaceable gift. I invest every moment wisely to gain its fullest value for myself and for the world. Your employer leases a portion of your days…that’s a given as far as goals and tasks are concerned. But you have a deeper commitment to yourself and to Life, to wring the most wonderful, purposeful experience possible out of every second: to love your family, to heal your body, to change the world. And your choices matter — they determine the value of the time you spend, whether you’re de-stressing in a bubble bath, visiting a sick parent, or having tea with friends. You matter.

Imagine New Year aspirations that challenge, support and empower you…that feed your soul rather than triggering self-criticism! That’s the way to start the year for joy and wellness….

Blessings for the New Year!

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