I used to like the few days leading up to New Years Eve. The old year was coming to an end, and the New Year felt so close, with all it’s promises and opportunities.
It is the sense of pure potential, a clean slate, a new day – a new me.
New year’s resolutions tend not to get carried out. I have broken more New Year resolutions than I even care to remember. It feels great to make them, but they are infamous for nor being implemented for long.
Why is that so?
The word “ resolution” is derived from the Latin word “ relsolvere” and it means to “separate from something, cut it off, untie it, loosen it”. It means to depart from a habit that we somehow believe does not (bene)fit the person we are.
Popular New Years resolutions have to do with unhealthy life style choices – like eat less, or more healthy, stop smoking, spend less money and save more, be more disciplined, more organised, have an exercise routine, be more loving, more be less reactive, be more spiritual – finally become the person we really, really are.
Maybe this is the allure of New Year’s resolutions – the impulse to be more authentic. To recognise and acknowledge certain areas in our life which are somehow not aligned, out of balance or even damaging to health and well-being.
We all know what it is – there is a certain feeling of unease, a sense that things are not quite right and something in us wants a change. It wants peace, well-being and liberation from the grasping and compulsion of suffering. It wants wholeness and an to the separation which we perceive as not right.
So we go and look for culprits. Maybe I am not happy with my weight, my physical appearance or the way my relationships work out. Maybe I am not happy in my job, or I am not satisfied with the choices I do around spending money or using my free time. So I want to “loosen it, cut it off or untie it”, because I believe that this specific behaviour is at the root of my not feeling fulfilled.
This is why New Years resolutions do not work. It is a great feeling to “finally do something about it”, but the approach is adding, instead of letting go. If I continue to hold on to the root of the problem, like my inner conflicts or what I do to control and manipulate my environment so I can continue to live in my dream-state, I soon will realise that replacing one behaviour with the other, does not bring the desired relief.
Because what I am truly looking for is not the resolution – it is a relief. Not to separate from an undesired situation, behaviour or compulsion – but to let go.
Letting go is about falling away. I have noticed that over the past two or three years many habits changed or simply disappeared. Some of them were “bad habits” in the conventional sense of the word, but there was also a lot vanishing, that would have been considered beneficial for personal growth, security, health and well-being. So in that sense, I do not make “resolutions” anymore, because now I am used to listen to needs of my whole being and it does tell me, in no unmistaken terms, what it needs regarding food, sleep, exercise, work or even areas of interest. It is simply coming to me and if it does, I do it and it turns out to be very easy pleasant and joyful, because it is bringing the relief from what has been previously perceived as heavy and limiting.
So I am here to advocate to completely and joyfully abandon New Year’s resolutions. Dump them. Forget about them – they are another trick of the ego to convince us that the solution to our problem lies in a “resolution”, for no determination in the world can force us to feel good about something we don’t. If it doesn’t do that now – will it ever in the future?
Instead I am introducing responsiveness to the needs of the moment, which is the only “resolution” we ever need – and I do not need to wait for the New Year before I start doing it, because if I do not start now – I will never get there.
What is it I need now – what does my body tell me, what are the movements of my mind and what is the longing of my soul. Just look at that and forget any resolutions at all.
How can anything that is not now, be in the future ?