New Year Resolutions …

Making Commitments to Yourself

So it is the new year and everyone loves to make resolutions for a better life or a  better self.  I always say to my clients that it is easier to make changes in your life when you have a deeper level of commitment than merely operating from the ‘shoulds’. If you are wanting to get healthier on any level whether it is to eat healthier food, start an exercise program, practice meditation or yoga or live your life with more integrity and purpose, then you need to engage with a deeper aspect of yourself than the ego.  We don’t want to doing anything because we ‘should’ we want to do it because it is what we truly want or know we need. Then making commitments to yourself is easier.

When you are doing something because you ‘should’, you tend to only engage with the ego which wants to please you and others through a very limited lens.  So you might hear people say :“I should go on a diet” or “my friends think I should take up yoga” or “I should stop being so angry and stop yelling at my kids”.  The ‘should’ suggests that there is another part of you that is resistant to the possibility or desire for change.  How different is the energy behind the alternative statements: “I have decided to go on a diet” “I am going to take up yoga and see if I like it” or “I don’t want to be angry and yell at my kids”.  There is much more ownership and intention behind each statement for change.

The ego part of the mind mostly operates from a level of consciousness that wants to keep us safe and generally that means it wants things to stay the same. The status quo life is one that the ego can relax in. It is only when we get challenged and are forced to move outside our comfort zone that we start to feel threatened.  The ego will then be quick to give you warnings with an inner voice of criticism or alarm – “what will people think of me”, “you can’t do that” or “how will you explain that to your family?” The ego is an important part of our everyday life and it does a good job of keeping you safe, but it also tends to be limiting and overly conformist and does not relax and let you see the big picture in life.

So if you are wanting to make changes as part of your new year’s resolutions it is good to check your motivations. Is it to please others, or satisfy a superficial need or want? Or is it coming from a deeper place of yearning for something more for yourself?  The desire to change can come from any part of ourselves, but the one that comes from a deeper, wiser part of us (akin to our soul or spirit) is much more real and authentic. The level of discipline you need to create the change may still be similar at the start, but the will power flows much more easily when you are engaging with something greater than your everyday self. When you make a commitment for change, to be healthier or live with more happiness and peace, that is to serve the greater wisdom of the self rather than the ego, you are much more likely to succeed.

Some simple exercises you can do to check your motivation is to explore the reasons for wanting to make the change: 

  • Make a list of the potential positive and negative outcomes of the desired change in your life.
  • Who in your life might benefit or be inconvenienced from you making this change?
  • Try and identify what you are resisting in not making the change – e.g. are their hidden fears and insecurities holding you back?  Is it because of other people?

Once you have done this exercise take a moment to tune in to your higher self, your inner guide in life and ask what they want for you. Try to get to a place of knowing what the best decision is for you rather than using the could or should in the decision you make.

From here you are able to make your deeper commitment to change and be confident that it is the right decision and one that will carry you in the right direction. Remember to take it one step at a time and do not make too many new commitments at once as this can be too overwhelming. Endeavour to be active in your own journey, regularly taking time to reflect and assess how you are going. When you feel like you are falling off the wagon, remember to step outside the ego self who wants to pedal in punishment and blame. Rather, seek the counsel of the wise self that helped you make this commitment in the first place and you will be given the stamina and the knowhow to continue forward.