A Reflection on Making Changes in the New Year

January brings a barrage of articles about how to keep your new year’s resolutions, and how to effect long-term change. It’s like watching the same train wreck, year after year. January: Goal set. March: Goal, what goal?

I am guilty.  Resolutions I have made for the new year are rarely fulfilled – I don’t make them any more – and reading these regurgitated strategies about how to keep resolutions, year after year, remind me of my past failings and make me wonder, do these work for anyone? Yet, not only do I still read these articles when they are picked up by my Feedly, I actively search them out with the hopes that someday, someone will write something new, something with a little more substance.

Instead, my solution: I unwittingly make changes at the beginning of the fall season, in anticipation of the new year, and this has actually proven to have more long-term effects. Why? I didn’t know.

I understood the fundamentals of goal-setting, or at least what everyone was writing about. Be specific, be selective, be realistic, have accountability, take baby steps, keep it simple, write it down, set up progress checkpoints, reward yourself. More sophisticated strategies involve reflecting on the motivation of your goals, anticipating potential pitfalls and mitigation.

This month, my friend Pierre sent me an article entitled ‘Making Major Life Changes’ by Phillip Moffitt, CEO and Editor-in-chief of Esquire Magazine in the ’80s. Despite the title, this article did not deliver the same, tired message.

First, it addresses the concept of faith as related to your ability to even begin to make change. Not faith in the religious sense, but belief in yourself.

Second is effort, of which there are three. There is effort which must be spent to move towards change in the first place, and this involves faith in yourself. Another form of effort will be required to persevere when you feel yourself taking a wayward path. The third form of energy comes from the momentum you will create by engaging and reflecting on this change.

Third is mindfulness. This is a checkpoint to ensure you continue to have faith in yourself and that your effort exists in the right places. This is one way to check whether you are undermining yourself from the outset.

Fourth is concentration, which is required to build up intensity and create momentum, which can feed into faith and effort, which can then feed into continued concentration.

Fifth is wisdom. This is an underlying process which maintains awareness of your motivation and highlights any required course correction. Sometimes we commit to change impulsively and for the wrong reasons. This is your reality check.

Have a read and see whether these ideas give you some new insight into your resolutions.
This month, I’ll be working on faith.

References
Making Major Life Changes
Making Fundamental Life Changes – Questions to examine the nature of your desired change