It’s the perfect time of year for resolutions… We all make promises to eat right, exercise, be more (or less!) social, but so often the problem with resolutions is that we approach them from the outside in. We say I want to look better, attract a mate, have more friends, etc… when what we should really be considering, is how we want to feel.
After all, as much as certain accomplishments (a svelte figure, a lasting love) can add to our quality of life, nothing external can make us happy or solve all our problems. While these standard resolutions are all good things – from quitting smoking to finding love or organizing social gatherings – achieving the objectives of our resolutions alone cannot pave the way to a great new phase of our life.
Rather, what will make a real difference this year, and for many, many years to come, is changing the way we approach our resolutions by focusing on the experience rather than the achievement. In other words, it’s time to try setting goals from the inside out! This way, rather than delaying our gratification, we’re engaging in life by finding satisfaction all the while, as we grow.
In order to really figure out what you want, you have to start by looking at what you’ve got. Odds are, some areas of your life genuinely make you happy. You’ve got a great family, or a job with lots of room to grow… you’ve managed to find love or you’re actually feeling great about being single. You’re successful or fit or any number of fabulous, happiness-contributing things. Whatever your achievements are, they’re all things to celebrate – and analyze. Why do they make you feel good? More specifically, exactly how do they make you feel? Safe, accomplished, confident are words that may come to mind. Loved. Respected. Write these words down as feelings you want to expand upon and bring to other areas of your life. If there’s no area you can see as thoroughly satisfying, think of specific instances that are. Next, consider what are the areas in your life that lack such positive emotions. What are the “negative” feelings you have when you think of these areas?
Being single is a common complaint at this point – it’s also a great example. If singlehood feels like a curse and you resolve to meet someone in the next six months, you probably know that not just anyone will do. But if experience has taught you anything, you may also realize that what you think you want doesn’t always pan out. Your last mate might have had the perfect romantic resume and still you felt something lacking. So, instead of saying “I want to meet someone (who has to look like x, earn y and drive z), start with how you want to feel in a relationship.
If you’re like most of us, you want to be loved (instead of lonely), sure. But also respected. Adored. Appreciated. Giving. Accepted – for just who you are. You want to feel all the ways you feel in the areas of your life where you’re genuinely content, for a start! So approach your quest from there. Participate in activities you actually enjoy as you look for a partner. Cooking classes or a hiking group or even singles-specific activities of any variety that you’d enjoy create a different feeling than aimlessly combing the singles bars or online dating sites. Actually enjoying the experience as much as looking for a result seriously ups the odds that you’ll get one. It also also ensures you’re not wasting your time! Apply this to any other resolutions you may be contemplating. (I want to feel like my sexiest, healthiest me. Or I want to feel valued in my job and find the self-satisfaction of actually using my talents. You get the point.)
Above all else, whatever you set out to accomplish, remember that your life is being lived right now – it’s not on hold until you’re thinner, fitter, smoke-free or partnered up. As such, waiting until you’ve met an external marker to enjoy your life experience, is one surefire way to delay the fulfillment you seek (possibly for good)! However, if you make this a time to engage rather than floating through life in anticipation of “one day, when you (fill in the blank),” you’ll find you’re a lot happier as you work toward your goals. And a lot more of your resolutions will stick!
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