Ctrl-Alt-Delete Your Broken New Year's Promises
The statistics are brutal: less than 10% of all New Year's resolutions actually last the distance... and by the beginning of February, nearly 60% of resolutions will have already been broken. What's happening: do we enjoy beating ourselves up? Or are we simply making resolutions that aren't right for us?
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and holistic wellness coach. She maintains that the vast majority of New Year's Resolutions are doomed to fail because we often choose them for the wrong reason.
"If you use the word 'should' when describing the reasons behind your New Year's resolution, then it will almost certainly fail. Chances are high, it already has", she says. "The word 'should' carries with it a sense of resistance and invites in struggle, resentment and ultimate disappointment."
For the many who have already lost their way in 2018, Forrester encourages a resolution reset… and says it all comes down to committing to something you truly want to do.
"When you commit to something because you want to, you are fully aligned with the decision: body, mind and soul. You will have the determination you need, the energy you require and the willpower to see it through", she remarks.
Interview with Kim Forrester
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and holistic wellness coach. She combines cutting-edge science with traditional spiritual teachings to inspire soulful living. Born in New Zealand, now living in Singapore, Kim has contributed regularly to global publications such as MariaShriver.com and Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global and has made television appearances in Australia and New Zealand. Her book, Infinite Mind, was awarded a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards. www.kimforrester.net
Question: How can we start our New Year's resolutions again?
Kim Forrester: How we start our resolution again is quite simple – we define a new goal, make a new promise to ourselves and try to make the necessary changes on a moment-by-moment basis. But, what's more important than how we make resolutions, is why we make resolutions. We are natural beings and, as such, growth, evolution and adaptation are a fundamental part of our psyche. However, in order to grow in effective and fulfilling ways, we need to make sure we are focusing on changes that are truly aligned with who we are, as an individual. We must ensure that we are choosing resolutions based on an authentic desire to be or experience something differently; not a superficial need to please others or comply with social expectations.
Question: What can we do to ensure we achieve our resolutions after our restart?
Kim Forrester: When we were young children just learning to walk, we tried and failed many times. But, we didn't chastise ourselves about it, or feel like we'd never achieve our goal, or simply give up trying. Learning to walk is a natural yearning within us all, and so we have an inherent ability to overcome any obstacle and push ourselves to keep going until we obtain our goal. Even as adults, it is entirely possible to have goals that are as inherent, important and instinctive as walking. These goals, of course, are highly individual and they rise from our deepest yearnings and visions for ourselves. They can't be 'given" to us by others and, often, they will not be shared nor understood by friends and family. However, when we set goals – resolutions – that are aligned with our natural, inherent desires we will always find a way to achieve them … even after all the falls, bumps and bruises.
Question: Why is February the best month for a Resolution Reset?
Kim Forrester: Statistics show that around 60% of all resolutions have been broken by the time February starts. That means, for many people, February is a time of unconscious and unhealthy self-admonishment. Self-talk around the New Year can tend to be quite optimistic. Think of the way you viewed the New Year – you were probably saying things to yourself like 'It's time to start fresh", 'I am going to do things differently from now on", 'This time, I'm really going to succeed". But, by February, the newness and excitement has worn off and, if you are one of the many, many people who have already broken your New Year promise, it's likely that your unconscious chatter is more critical and mean. 'I am such a loser", 'I failed again", 'It's never going to change", 'What's the point?". This kind of inner-dialogue is unhelpful and unhealthy, so February is a great month for a Resolution Reset – just as your resolution falls off its rails, you can take the opportunity to restart, refocus and recharge your commitment to truly authentic growth and inner evolution.
Question: How can we choose a resolution that is right for us?
Kim Forrester: The trick to a resolution reset is to redefine a goal that is truly, intrinsically aligned with who you are and what you really want from life. This means you're going to have to get deep and it means you're going to have to be self-aware. Importantly, before you even make a resolution, ask yourself if this really is a good time to be committing to something new. Our lives have their own rhythm – one that has nothing to do with a man-made calendar. If you find yourself in a time of endings, goodbyes, grief or overwhelming obligations, acknowledge that this is probably not the best time to be expecting anything new from yourself. Wait for another, more conducive time - it may be a birthday resolution, or a spring promise. Once the time is ripe, there are three ways to choose a resolution that is right for you.
Switching off autopilot:
In our logic-loving society, it is easy to get stuck in the idea that the only way forward is the way it's been done before; that you can only achieve your goal by obeying the rules or following the accepted formula. But you are unique, creative and capable. Let go of any concept of how things are supposed to work and carve your own path forward.
Trusting your intuition:
We are taught that logic and analysis will lead us to the best solution, every time. However, recent studies have suggested that we are, in fact, at the mercy of our unconscious brain. What this means for you, is that even the most -rational' decision is being influenced by deeply-set, unconscious patterns and beliefs, including childhood memories and trauma, unhealthy behaviour patterns and deep rooted concepts of what you do, and do not, believe you are worthy of. In contrast, researchers are beginning to understand the power of the -gut instinct' and have discovered that unconscious urges and emotional prompts can actually increase the accuracy and confidence of decision making. It's important to note that the vast majority of your physical and physiological processes are unconscious, so your body is a wonderful ally when seeking intuitive knowledge. It knows what's good for us, and what's not, so pay attention.
Listening to your language:
A little self-awareness around the words you use – out loud, and in your mind – can reveal a lot about your goals and your intent behind them. Listen to yourself. If you are doing something because you 'should" or you 'have to" then you are inviting in a sense of resistance and struggle; of obligation and disempowerment. Make sure you are choosing goals because you 'want to". If you want something, then it is an authentic desire and you will have the strength, resilience and creativity you need to achieve.
Question: How can we change our views to age gracefully?
Kim Forrester: According to a recent study, harboring negative beliefs about ageing actually undermines your physical wellbeing and can be a contributing factor in the onset of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Put simply, if you have an unhealthy attitude about growing older, you are increasing your risk of being unhealthy as you grow older! For many millennia, older members of society were revered and highly respected. It is only in the past 200 years that we have begun to ignore, insult or under-appreciate what older people have to offer society. In order to foster a healthy attitude toward ageing, we have to learn to not only age gracefully, but also age gratefully – ie. to acknowledge and celebrate the wonders of growing older. To age gratefully, we need to dismantle the current views of society, and find a healthier, more natural view of ageing. This includes:
Redefining your measurement of success
Dismiss society's lie that success only comes from busy-ness, productiveness and accumulation. Instead, learn to value yourself and others based on factors that make a real difference to the world such as wisdom, kindness and leadership.
Starting each day with a sense of purpose
Studies show that people who have a daily sense of purpose, actually live longer. Inject a sense of contribution and purpose into your life. Your purpose could be as simple as expressing yourself authentically, amplifying faith or gratitude, or choosing to be a vessel for tolerance and kindness.
Rejecting perfection; embracing evolution.
Laugh at the absurdity of society's drive for perfection. Instead, celebrate the wonders of being a natural being. Thrive in your ability to grow, adapt, learn and endure.
Expanding into old age
Make a conscious decision to expand as you grow older. Instead of shrinking into yourself as you age, use your time to widen your influence and broaden your horizons. Touch more lives, visit more places, learn more languages and explore more cultures.
Never stop learning. Your body's cells are constantly renewing and, in one year, you are technically a whole new person! As your brain cells renew, make a conscious choice to fill them with new ideas and knowledge. Be curious and rebellious; be willing to change your mind and question your prior beliefs.
Making peace with death
Find the courage to face your own mortality. Appreciate the gift of life and meet each day – whether challenging or celebratory – with a sense of gratitude and grace.
Question: What are your top tips to conduct a successful 2018 Resolution Reset?
Kim Forrester: Get clear about your intent: "The resolution reset is a great opportunity to get clear about what you -want' for yourself. It's not about the what of your resolution, it's about the why. Do you believe you should lose 5kg because it's an appealing number on your bathroom scales … or do you want to eat more nutritionally because you'd love to feel more energised? Do you think you should stop wasting time on social media feeds … or do you want to nourish yourself more often with inspiring activities, surroundings and conversations? Make sure you have the right intent when setting your goal, as this will help you maintain enthusiasm and commitment."
Only focus on the things within your control: "It's all well and good to say -I'm going to change my job by the end of the year', but in doing so, you may be setting yourself up for bitter disappointment. You can't control the current job market, or the decisions of others. What you can promise yourself is that you will explore every employment opportunity, or that you will upskill, or believe in your skill set more unconditionally. When conducting a resolution reset, make sure that you don't commit to a goal that is out of your control. Focus solely on YOU; your decisions, your actions and your attitude."
Choose to be, rather than do: "We live in a world obsessed with doing and, often, our resolutions are based on what we can achieve in a physical sense: join a gym, learn the guitar, spend less time on social media etc. But the easiest resolutions for us to maintain are those that focus on who we want to be: kinder, more assertive, more mindful, more optimistic etc. When we resolve to be something new, or greater, we place full responsibility in our own hands. And if we truly WANT to be something new, we will find ways to grow, adapt and evolve, and achieve our resolution."
Interview by Brooke Hunter