No More Resolutions: Envisioning Your New Year
by Beverly Sastri
The beginning of a new year brings fresh excitement for possibilities, an excitement that invariably inspires a plethora of New Year’s resolutions. “I’ll stop eating sugar and quit smoking and lose 30 pounds AND conquer the world.” But often the magic fades, habits reemerge, and we’re left feeling defeated a few weeks later. In this piece, author and speaker Beverly Sastri outlines how to move beyond resolutions into our full potential with the power of our core truth and vision.
I find it difficult to even write the words “New Year’s resolutions.” The phrase brings up too many painful memories of the money I’ve wasted on gym memberships, diet books, and my personal favorite: the little metal “crunch machine” that I vowed I would use until I could bounce a quarter off my gloriously taut belly.
After years of teaching people how to experience their full potential, I finally realized what the problem is with those pesky resolutions: they arise from the thinking mind instead of a deeper place of knowing that I call “core truth.” Whereas your thinking mind identifies problems that need to be resolved through force of will, your core truth recognizes areas of unrealized potential, or visions, that are meant to become a reality. A vision represents the truth of who you are and what you are meant to create. It is, by its very nature, so inspiring that it practically calls itself into existence.
Following are some practices you can use to reconnect to your core truth, craft a compelling vision, and access a powerful support system that can help make your vision a reality.
Step 1: Turn up the dial on your core truth. You are not unfamiliar with your core truth: most people refer to it as intuition or gut instinct. It’s your core truth that makes you feel an instant rapport with one person and just as quickly on guard with another. It’s a feeling you get when you walk into a potential new home or job and think, “This is the place for me.”
As a reintroduction to your core truth, you can do a five-minute mini-meditation I’ve adapted from Sandra Ingerman’s audiobook The Soul Retrieval Journey1. Click here to discover what it feels like when you are connected to your core truth.
Most of my clients report that hearing or speaking a truth gives them a feeling of expansion, relaxation, or warmth in their chest or gut. I worked with Jeff, an IT manager, who describes it as “a ’letting go’ in the gut, a sense of ease, like everything’s right in my world.” Hearing or speaking something that is not true creates a sense of constriction. Muscles in your neck, shoulders, or chest may tighten up; your breathing may become shallow or stop entirely. “I get a feeling of resisting, turning away, or pushing back,” Jeff says.
Once you recognize when your truth is speaking, you will be amazed at how often the feeling of “true” or “not true” crops up—in the middle of a conversation, while writing an e-mail, or as you mull over a difficult decision.
Putting Step 1 into Practice
Notice when your core truth sends out signals of “true” or “not true” throughout your day. Act in alignment with those signals—let them inform what you think, say, and do.
Step 2: Shift from resolving to envisioning. Think of a resolution you’ve made in the past. Chances are, it’s “fixing” a problem or addressing an insufficiency: I resolve to lose weight, to exercise more, to stop smoking, etc. The resolution feels like a have-to or should-do.
To turn your resolution from a have-to into a want-to, use your core truth to create a vision for what will happen once the resolution is achieved. Let your core truth help you paint an image that creates the same sense of expansion and warmth you feel when you hear a “truth.” For example, imagine yourself and your life after you’ve lost 15 pounds. Imagine how it feels to be in your new body: do you feel younger, stronger, more alive, and full of energy? What will you do with your new body? Describe yourself swimming at the beach, charging across the tennis court, or having great sex. This kind of outcome is a long way from a have-to; it’s an I-can’t-wait-for that motivates you to stay on course!
For my client Jeff, his vision focused on his work as a professional development manager: “Integrity and commitment to the individual are my personal hallmarks. When interacting with me, people transcend boundaries and grow as human beings, not just as professionals.”
Putting Step 2 into
Assume your resolution has already been accomplished; describe the wonderful outcome that has made all your efforts worthwhile. Write your description in present tense (“I am ” or “My life is ”) and make the description juicy!
Step 3: Now that you have a vision, add the stepping stones. Imagine yourself already living the vision you have created. Take a moment to feel how inspiring or exciting this vision is to you—then make a list of the actions or goals that will help you get there. This next part of the process will feel very familiar to you; it’s where you might choose to list some of your original resolutions. For example, if your vision is, “I feel vibrantly alive, radiant in my body, supple, and strong,” your stepping stone list might include the following: lose 5 pounds over the next 5 weeks, do 20 minutes of aerobic exercise every other day, and find recipes for great-tasting, lower-calorie meals (and actually use them!).
When you view each goal as a stepping stone toward your vision rather than an end point in and of itself, your vision keeps you motivated by reminding you why you chose to accomplish that particular goal in the first place. “Having a vision creates enthusiasm. I had always been pretty disciplined about preparing for interviews, but suddenly I was inspired about it. I really saw how to create a dialogue with my interviewers,” Jeff shared.
Putting Step 3 into Practice
Reconnect to your vision before taking action. Let your core truth guide you as you create and revise your list of stepping stones.
Step 4: Looking for more support? Let the events of your life help you! In addition to your core truth, there is another universal dynamic you can rely on: the events of your life are always working on your behalf. When you write down your vision and goals, the events of your life instantly begin to realign to support you in achieving them. That support may be of the desirable kind: you are inspired to lose weight and your spouse decides to join you, or you read an article about a new food program, or you receive an introductory offer to a local gym. A friend recently mentioned that he was looking for referrals to a new dentist; the next day he received a new issue of Connecticut Magazine listing the state’s best dentists.
On the other hand, you may make a resolution and receive support that is less pleasant. In an attempt to lose weight you are confronted by your addictive or coping behaviors; you notice that you eat when you are upset, tired, or feel lonely. The message is that it’s time to transform those behaviors by identifying and resolving the fears or discomforts that drive them.
Whether pleasant or painful, your life circumstances are the catalyst that brings support, deep wisdom, and transformation. For Jeff, that meant an unexpected offer to interview for a desirable IT position. “It spoke to my core truth immediately,” he said. “It felt exactly right, and I ended up winning that job.”
Putting Step 4 into Practice
Notice all the unexpected synchronicities that bring you the resources, guidance, and lessons you need. If something unpleasant happens, ask, “How can this help me achieve my vision? What is the lesson or guidance contained within?”
Remember that in the end, you’re accomplishing much more than you realize. The process of working towards your goals and visions is a type of metaphysical weight training that shows you where you either honor or inhibit your overall potential. As you meet challenges or failures, remember the events of your life are there to strengthen you, not to make you suffer. You are being asked to see and do things differently so you can succeed.
As you stretch beyond preconceived limits, you access insights, wisdom, and new behaviors that benefit you in every area of your life. Be gentle, patient, and loving with yourself as you strive to reach your goals. Let your core truth inspire you, move confidently toward your vision, and know that the events of your life are always providing support, opportunity, and guidance.
1Ingerman, Sandra, audiobook, The Soul Retrieval Journey (Sounds True, 1997).
Beverly Sastri, MBA, offers keynotes and workshops on how to LIVE like YOU MEAN it!? and experience new levels of clarity, effectiveness, and resilience. She is creator of the newly released LIVE like YOU MEAN it! audio CD and is also author of a forthcoming experiential guidebook. www.beverlysastri.com
© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Kripalu Online. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.