compassionately keeping a New Year’s resolution

Happy New Year everyone! Given the New Year was approaching, I wrote about creating a compassionate New Year’s Resolution a few days ago. I said that “your resolution is a communication to yourself about yourself and what you value. A compassionate New Year’s Resolution articulates and strengthens your personal values and interests. It is likely to be open-ended and capable of accommodating your humanity.” I then offered a few ways to create a compassionate New Year’s Resolution.

In that post I also said I would write again about how you might compassionately keep a New Year’s Resolution. When I said that I had no idea how to go about that. I just thought there was no use creating a compassionate resolution and then being forceful with yourself and stressing out over keeping it. Nor would it be in the spirit of compassion to abuse yourself when things don’t go as you planned.

So, I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few thoughts.

Compassionately keeping a New Year’s Resolution means…

At the core of your compassionate resolution are your personal values including care for yourself. So, compassionately keeping your resolution should entail:

  1. Keeping your needs and your values at the centre of any actions — or ‘inactions’ if your resolution is written that way.
  2. Making sure you don’t sacrifice your other needs and values to achieve your resolution. For example, you can’t add hours of gym to an already over-scheduled day. You still need to sleep.

1. Keep your needs and values at the centre of your actions (or ‘inactions’)

This would involve checking in on your resolution as it is written. You’ll need to be creative about this. Here are a few ideas I came up with:

The first idea is to write your resolution out and stick it somewhere it will surprise you from time to time. The inside door of the linen cupboard; in your glove-box; behind your credit card: those places would work. Read your resolution and be reminded of what you want to create — and why. Read your resolution slowly until you start to smile.

Another option is to schedule a regular ‘resolution date.’ Would daily, weekly, or monthly work well for you and your resolution? Make some time to read and connect with your resolution, to celebrate your accomplishments, to mourn any setbacks and to consider: What next?

To keep your needs and values central, you may also like to leave some space for growth: as you work on your resolution, new goals and values may emerge. You wanted to lose weight and now you want to focus on getting strong. I say go for it. Your initial resolution is merely part one of your year!

2. Manage your resolution to allow you to take care of your other needs

I do not do well at this part. I tend to take on a million things and end up overwhelmed, worn out, grumpy, resentful. And of course getting mad at myself for making another mess. So, I brainstormed some ideas to keep me out of trouble this year… I welcome you to chose one or two if you wish…

Some Strategies

Here are a few strategies you could try to keep your resolutions. The first few involve some planning but I would recommend being flexible and adjusting your approach to changing circumstances.

Start with research – maybe January could be about investigating ways you might like to go about meeting your resolution and planning how this may look in your life. Will you have to make any changes to accommodate your resolution? Are you willing to make those changes? Who could help you? Who might resist? I am going to start with research this year.

Snowballing – take one action in January and add a new thing each month. By the end of the year you will have 11 actions you are taking. Yes, 11 — because — December!

Small steps – take one step a day, week or month toward your goal.

‘Being’ resolutions – if your resolution is more about being than doing or having maybe you don’t need a strategy. Or you could think of places and circumstances where your being is easier than others and consider how to extend that experience to other places and circumstances. Thanks Bernd for reminding me of ‘being’ goals in your comment.

Resolutions about contributing to others – To achieve something for a group of people, you may be able to work alone. But it could be powerful to recruit your group. If you are working on building harmonious relationships, you may like to explore what others think about the situation: what do they feel and think about it? Is there space in your resolution for them? Thank you OrchidWhisperer for reminding me about contributing to others.

Letting your resolution work its own magic – just write your resolution, own it and go with whatever happens. My second example below illustrates how this can work (even before the year began!)

What might this look like?

I am going to give two examples. The first is my ‘real resolution’ the second is one that I seem to have accidentally taken on as a result of creating an example in the last post.

1. My ‘real serious’ resolution

Ok, here is my official resolution:

“I apply presence and mutuality to reduce greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere.”

In 2018 I gave my car away and started walking or taking public transport. I had my house insulated and installed solar panels and solar hot water. I’m still working on my personal carbon footprint but this year I want to go bigger.

In 2019, I want to work with government bodies, community groups, and/or businesses to assist with larger-scale carbon-reduction processes. I have no idea what that might look like, so I am going to spend a month or so doing some research. I’m hoping to find local groups that I could work with and uncover priority issues in my area (Ipswich is traditionally a coal mining town, so I should not have to look too far.) I will also explore what my workplace is doing (I think we are pretty good, but there may be some project to join.) I suspect this will turn out to be a small steps type of year, with each step leading to another week-by-week and month-by-month. I may have a little plan in place by the end of January. It may all remain open-ended all year long…

2. The ‘accidental’ resolution

This is an example of a let it work its own magic resolution. So, in my previous post, I created this resolution as an example:

“I love and appreciate myself and I live life to the fullest.”

I wasn’t meaning to take it on, but I read it and it really moved me in the moment.

A few hours later, I found myself dragging all my size 12 jeans from my wardrobe. Now, I was size 12 for about 15 minutes in 2013. I have hung on to these lovely, still new jeans ever since. I made a small clothes mountain on the floor. I added all the shirts that I must wear with shoulders hunched to prevent the buttons popping at the front, plus the stuff I don’t wear because it is old, ugly, scratchy, gives me a wedgie, or is just ‘not me.’ Then I loaded it into my partner’s car, drove it all to a Lifeline donation bin and deposited it. When the little door to the donation bin closed I just started laughing. I felt so good!  I felt wonderful, free, liberated. I am smiling now.

The next morning, I spontaneously unsubscribed to a heap of email lists: craft supplies I will never use; online courses on philosophy, history, creative writing I ‘should’ do, store advertising… I cleared my inbox of the negative clutter that was reminding me I need to do this or that to be acceptable. I unsubscribed to it all and felt so light and free. I don’t have all this stuff hanging over me, I can just get on with things! I am curious as to what might happen next…

Your resolutions and how you might work — or play — with them

That’s me done — I am all out of ideas. I would love to hear from anyone who would like to share their resolutions and/or how you might fulfil them. Please add to the comments. 🙂

Cheers! Rowena.

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