Ah, the New Year… time to make some well-intended commitments to ourselves to change our lives and then fail to do so, reinforcing the notion that we are a failure at achieving our goals by mid-year. A bit cynical, you say? No, I’m just being real. Let’s look at a statistic. Here in the US, out of all the people who get gym memberships in January, only twenty percent are still going after only five months. These are people who are tied to an annual contract, so they are paying every month, despite quitting.
Why is this? After all, self-improvement is such a noble objective. Is it that they thought they’d have time but they don’t? Is it because their favorite elliptical machine always tends to be taken by that lady in the hot pink leotard? No. None of the excuses that the mind creates are really why people stop going. The reason people give up is because they make the decision to go the gym from their personal wounding rather than from a mindful state of being.
The example of gym memberships is a good one because it’s easy to find data on membership attrition rates, but this applies to any goal in any area of one’s life.
When we act from our wounds and insecurities, no matter how much we think we are progressing, that energy tend to continue to be the source of our motivation. Self-judgment is a poor motivator because it is grounded in a desire to “fix the negative.” Every time we go to do the thing that we think we are supposed to be doing, we reinforce that there is something wrong with us that needs to be fixed. Most of us can only take so much of this self-berating until we give up.
Being successful in our goals requires that we adopt a new form of motivation that doesn’t come from our wounding, but rather, from our inspiration. In our culture, it can be very easy to confuse reacting from our insecurities for genuine inspiration.
In order to tap into genuine inspiration, we must start with valuing and loving ourselves for where we already are. We need to take inventory of the successes that we have already made. So many people think that the New Year is a time for a fresh start. It’s not. You already started the moment you were born. You have already accumulated thousands of successes if you allow yourself to experience them. From this place of self-acknowledgement, you can use your history of successes as the foundation for achieving more.
Start with your success at being alive, and then build on that. I can pretty much guarantee you that if you are reading this, you are successful at being alive. I’m not trying to be cute. The truly mindful person never leaves anything out when it comes to acknowledgment. Give yourself space to experience any kind of “shoulds” that arise in your thoughts. Notice them, but don’t take action from them. Instead, patiently await until you can be sure that you are in a state of self-love, and then ask yourself, “what sort of goals feel right for me that will amplify this feeling?”
We would like to give credit to wildheartwriters, media.mnn and readersdigest for the images used in this article.