As the New Year approaches and we begin to think about resolutions, we’re often looking at areas of our lives that seem out of balance – what we want more of and less of. Last January NBC News reported iQuanti statistics for Google searches on New Year’s resolutions (1). It’s not surprising that get healthy, get organized and live life to the fullest topped the chart, followed by learn new hobbies, spend less/save more, travel more and read more. While these are all great ideas, I am aware that New Year’s resolutions often dissolve into oblivion by February. Why is that? I suspect it might have something to do with the whole mental construct of making resolutions in the first place. Why do we need to create a resolution for something we know we want to do? I don’t need a resolution to wear clean clothes or go food shopping, so why do I have to remind myself I want to eat healthy? Won’t I just do that because I want to?
There’s nothing wrong with resolutions dying, but why not start the New Year both energized with the excitement of a brand new year and infused with the power of our own desires. Make only one resolution – to start each day (and throughout the day) with a simple question. What do I want? For this moment of my life? For this day? For this week and so on. But most important, to bring harmony and balance into my life right now! To be happy right now in the moment!
An important part of this exercise is to understand what I mean by a want or a desire. Think of it this way. If I’m happy if I get it or do it or not, it is a want or a desire. If my happiness depends on doing or getting or avoiding it, it’s not a want or a desire, but a need. Often resolutions fall by the wayside because they are needs and not desires. If I need to lose five pounds to feel good about myself and be happy, what do you think my chances are of losing that weight? When you hear yourself or others say, “I should do thus and so forth,” what they are really saying is that “I need to in order to be feel good, to be happy.” Sorting out wants and desires from needs and shoulds is one of the most loving, compassionate and empowering things you can do for yourself and everyone else.
Why? Because shoulds and needs hobble the natural force of our own wants and desires. Behind every need and should, there is a want or desire that we don’t trust ourselves to do. Therefore, we put on the extra layer of doubt and fear to propel ourselves to action. If you question this, the next time you hear yourself saying you should do something, ask yourself, What if I didn’t say should? What would I be afraid of? Your answer will speak volumes about how you motivate yourself – with the carrot (wants and desires) or the stick (needs and shoulds).
Try the Option Method to learn how to understand how you motivate yourself.