Making New Year’s Resolutions that Make Sense

Are You Making a Commitment to Improving Your Life?

It’s that time of year again. Are you, like so many people, thinking about making your New Year’s resolutions?  Do yours usually focus on what you want to have or do, or the things you wish were different than they are?

We believe that in order to make resolutions that really stick and bring you what you truly want, it’s important to look underneath the surface of your desires to what is most deeply important to you. So in light of that, here’s a short story that we’d like to share with you.

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A boat docked in a tiny fishing village. A Tourist complimented the Fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Fisherman.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the Tourist.

The Fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The Tourist asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs… I have a full life.”

The Tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you create a terrific business from what you already love to do! You should start by fishing longer every day and then you can sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat.  With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to a big city!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Fisherman.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the Tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the Tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” said the Fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny coastal village, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings doing what you like and enjoying your friends.”

The Moral of the Story

You could probably identify many morals in this story, but the one we would like to focus on is about paying a attention to the difference between what you are resolving to do, your strategies, and what you value when you create a New Year’s resolution.

If you look carefully at this story you’ll notice that the Fisherman and the Tourist actually had many similar underlying values. These are most clearly shown in what they list as their concept of an ideal life. Each aspect of the life they describe is the result of experiencing something that they deeply value, and many of the things on their lists are direct expressions of these values, such as; friendship, play, relaxation, intimacy, friendship, etc. Some are hinted at in the activities; sleeping late maybe an expression of choice, ease, or rest. Fishing could be a way to experience beauty, harmony, peace, relaxation, fun, etc.

You could take any of the activities described in the story and, if you have some competency with the use of a values vocabulary, you could identify each of the deep motivations that create the desire for these activities.

Usually when we’ve heard people talk about this story they do so with a sense that the Tourist is somehow “missing the point,” as though creating a thriving, global enterprise was somehow pointless given that it only leads to that same lifestyle the Fisherman already has. We believe that the activities the Tourist describes actually help make our point about the importance of knowing the deep motivations that drive the strategies that are attractive to you.

Some of the values that may be driving the Tourist, both in his having acquired an MBA and his quest to create a thriving business, are his values for; accomplishment, self-expression, success, adventure, and possibly even contribution. Contribution to all those people who would be employed, the families fed, and the opportunities that a growing company provides to its employees.

None of these values could be satisfied in the same way during the retirement the Tourist describes. That’s the time when the tourist will have the opportunity to experience the rest of those qualities that they value.

Does Your New Year’s Resolution Make Sense?

So how does this relate to making a New Year’s resolution? While it’s good to keep the end in mind while making a resolution (such as that ideal retirement) it’s probably more important to keep the beginning in mind. What gives birth to your desire for a particular outcome in the first place? What is the deepest motivation that creates your desire for the particular New Year’s resolution you hope to make, whether it’s eating less, exercising more, having more fun, or accomplishing that goal you keep putting off?

If you can get to the “beginning” of that desire, what you most deeply value, you may recognize that in fact there are many strategies that would allow you to experience what you value. And if you look carefully enough you may notice that the particular strategy you are resolving to undertake actually leaves out some things that are very important to you. In which case it’s important to rethink your resolution so that whatever strategy finally you choose will provide the opportunity to satisfy everything you desire.

On the other hand, by doing this investigation you may find that your New Year’s resolution is the perfect strategy for helping you experience everything you desire, with nothing left out. This can be a good thing as well, because, as we have discovered over and over again, when people are connected strongly to what they value they are much more motivated to take the actions that will help them experience those results. In fact, a clear articulation of one’s values provides the most effective kind of motivation we’ve seen for sticking with one’s resolutions.

So we encourage you to take a moment and reverse engineer your New Year’s resolutions to determine whether or not they will be likely to satisfy everything that you find valuable. If you’d like some help, you can use our free Values Exercise to do this.

Please post a reply and let us know what you discover if you do this little exercise.


A Self Help Motivation New Year’s Resolution — Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself!

Try This One on For Size

As we move in to the first weeks of 2011, let your number one New Year’s Resolution be a commitment to self-care and self appreciation.

Have you been putting effort into changing your life for the better for yourself, those around you, and maybe even the world? Does it seem you’ve tried just about every book and program on the market?

If so, while these efforts are often helpful, sometimes the self-awareness they bring can lead to frustration and even more self-criticism and judgment. They can become just one more thing you’re striving to measure-up-to.

You are Doing the Best You Can

As you move into this new year, remember that you are always doing the best you can, and that your “mistakes” are important sign-posts along the road that leads to true happiness. If you take time to read them, they can always help guide you on your way.

So the next time you find yourself feeling frustrated or being judgmental or self-critical — STOP — then take time to identify the learning lesson, celebrate your intentions and efforts along the way, and remember to appreciate all of the wonderful things about you.

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You will have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you will discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.” ~ Alan Alda

Remember that it won’t always be easy to let 2011 be your year of self discovery, self-care and self appreciation, but allowing yourself to relax into the perfection of every moment will guaranteed this year to be part of the glorious, excitement filled journey of your lifetime.

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I Have a Choice? Use Your Remote Control and Change the Channel NOW!

How many do you have?

Have you ever counted how many remotes you have in your home? You probably have at least several, one for the television, the DVD player, the CD player, and even one for the garage door. Each remote is one that you probably can’t live without, each one having a specific purpose. You can perform powerful actions and make changes using each of these remotes.

A series of remotes piled on top and alongside...
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The one remote that’s more important than all others

What you may not have realized is that you also have something that works like a remote control for your brain. This remote is especially powerful, and allows you to change the way you think.

How much of your time do you spend on a negative talk station? Would you like to listen to a “different station” now and then? Well then it’s probably time to use your remote by choosing to listen to a station that broadcasts more positive messages, ones that give you support and encouragement, rather than judgment and negativity.

Stop listening to the messages that say, “I am not good enough, smart enough, good-looking enough “, “I can’t, I should have, I shouldn’t have,” and start tuning into the channel that tells you that you CAN do it, you are good enough, and you’ve done a great job.

“Affirmations are like prescriptions for certain aspects of yourself you want to change.” ~ Jerry Frankhauser

It’s time for a change

So don’t you think it’s time you use your built in remote to change the channel to a more positive station? How do you think you’d feel if you start to hear messages such as, “I am worthy,” and “I can get what I want from life.”?

When you choose to only tune in to the positive messages station, you will create the kind of [tag-tec]self help[tag-tec] strategies that you need to accomplish your dreams.

Anyone that has experienced the power of positive belief statements can attest to the changes that ensue when you use your internal remote to change that negative believe channel to a more positive one.

Allowing ourselves to focus on improving our self esteem and our self image can bring peace and harmony into our lives, along with a much more authentic happiness.

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Pollyanna or Truth You Decide

Believe It or Not?

According to one dictionary, the definition of Pollyanna is a person who is unreasonably or illogically optimistic.

We’ve all heard sayings like, look for the silver lining, turn lemons into lemonade, if at first you don’t succeed, and many many others, but how did these sayings get started? Was it unreasonable or illogical , or did they arise out of universal truths.

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An Inspirational Video – 12 Things to Remember

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If it isn’t clear to you whether to put faith in such statements, one way to decide is to ask yourself, “which feels better?”

Would it feel better to focus your attention on hope and possibility, or not. Would you have more to help yourself and those around you, or not.

Believe it or not, it’s up to you. What do you think?

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Don’t Worry! — How to Be Happy Moment by Moment

Want More Out Of Life?

Do you often wonder how to be more successful, have , or just get more of what you want out of life? Do you and have more peace of mind?

Thinking about these things, wanting them and not knowing how to actually get them can lead to high levels of stress and frustration. That’s the bad news, but don’t worry because there’s also good news. There are things you can do, steps you can take, that will help reduce your stress and lead you toward a much happier more peaceful life.question-your-thinking

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

What Are You Thinking about?

In order to clearly understand what is causing in your life, you must begin by listening to yourself closely. Every thought that passes through your mind has an impact. Common thoughts such as, “How will I get this work done?” or “I don’t know how I will pay my bills this month.” or “What if someone I love becomes ill?” leave a mark as they pass through. That mark is evidenced by the stress you feel.

All of these stressful thoughts can be turned around so that you can focus on the positive. Instead of wondering, “How will I get this work done?” you could ask yourself, “How much work can I get accomplished today?” and then decide on a realistic answer. This sets you up to meet expectations, rather than fall short.

Imagine about what would happen if someone you love becomes ill. How would you feel? Now imagine focusing on spending a lot of quality time with the people you love. How would that feel? Most worries are focused on some future event you don’t want to happen or things you wish you could change about the past.

Worry Worry Who’s Got the Worry?

It’s unrealistic to think we’ll stop worrying altogether. But, constantly thinking those “what if” and “I should…” thoughts are truly harmful to your happiness. Worry causes stress, stress causes agitation, and agitation makes you worry more. It’s a downward spiral, and one that has major negative effects on your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

Unless you can learn to break the worry cycle,  the discomfort, confusion, disappointment, and pain that are caused by your everyday unexamined thoughts will continue to be your day to day companion and keep you from feeling happy.

While it’s very normal for us to worry–with practice–that same worry cycle could be turned into a productive process. This process can propels us towards positive change and moves us to another level of happiness.

Take a good look at how you interact with the world. Take some time to reflect on how you face problems and tackle them. Does sitting around worrying ever seem to help your situation? Breaking the cycle is critical.

Breaking Free From Worry

Genuine happiness is only around the corner, but developing the skills and techniques to help reframe the negative and worrisome thoughts that detour your happiness is essential. Breaking free from worry and escaping the vicious cycle is possible, if you’re willing to stop, examine, and then revise your “what if” and “if only” thoughts. It’s like breaking any bad habit–it can be done, with a commitment and some practice.

Here you’ll find a three-step plan that can quickly turn things around and lead you toward a more rewarding, peaceful, and happy life:

Notice Feelings

The first step is to notice when you’re feeling uncomfortable in any way. Contrary to what you might think, your thoughts cause your feelings, but often times we think so many things–so quickly–that it’s challenging to notice individual thoughts.

This is why the very first thing to do is to begin noticing when you feel uncomfortable.  At this point your worry becomes a helpful friend. Worry inevitably makes us feel uneasy, this discomfort can be used as a warning bell to stop and discover what you’re thinking in that moment. Managing your worries and making changes can start by simply noticing how you’re feeling.

Flip It – “Don’t Want” into “Do Want”

Worry usually takes the form of what you don’t want. Now it’s time to figure out what you actually do want. When you find yourself thinking “How will I get this work done?” it’s time to discover what you do want at a core level that has you think that thought in the first place. When you examine this thought you might realize that you truly value productivity and what you do want is to be more effective and get things finished in a timely manner.

Now What? Take Action!

Once you’ve identified the essence of what you really want, don’t stop there, it’s now time to take action. Deciding what actions to take is the next step.

You’ve determined that what you do want is to be more effective and get things done in a timely manner. Remember, worrying about what will happen in the future or fear of repeating a past mistake is what keeps you stuck in the worry cycle. Stay in the present moment. And ask yourself; “What can I do in this moment to be more effective?” “What action can I take right now that will move you closer to getting something finished?”

Each and every small step you take moves you closer to what you do want .Once you get moving in this direction, you’ll find that the process takes on a power of its own, gently releasing you from the tight grip of stress and worry and pointing you in the direction of that peace and happiness you long for. Because, when you’re in action there just isn’t that much time to be worried.


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