What motivates your resolutions?

Renee's blog photo

At this time of year, standing in a shopping line can be a bit unnerving… magazine covers promptly remind you to get in better shape, watch your calories, start a detox, and start eating kale for it’s rich, anti-oxidant properties. Yep, the New Year is upon us and it’s resolution time again. Time to be reminded of all the shoulds to make a healthier, shinier you.

So you say to yourself, “This year I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to start running, lose weight, read War & Peace…” whatever it is. But much like past years, a month in you hang your head and with a defeated sigh, recognize the momentum to achieve your resolutions had a very short shelf life. You’re left wondering, “Why is it so hard to succeed in these goals? After all, they are healthy, make-me-a-better-person goals… right?”

If the above sounds familiar to you, you might want to ask yourself where you got the motivation for your goals. Who and what motivated you to choose them and why? If the answer to any of these questions takes you to an outside source or comes from a place of “I should because it’s good for me” it might be time to do a little more probing, or as we say in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, tell yourself more.

We live in a world rich with information sources–there’s an expert for any topic imaginable and you can source them as fast as you can type their name into Google. There’s always someone–an “expert”–a friend, family member, colleague, or even a stranger (often in the shopping line) ready and willing to give you advice on your next pursuit. Whether it’s good advice or not is irrelevant, because whenever you outsource your plans (your resolutions), the lack of internal, genuine connection to it will leave a gap. That gap will show up in the form of resistance to the goal, and often to poor follow-through, leaving you left feeling defeated and disempowered.

One of my favourite assignment questions from my Phoenix Rising schooling was “What’s the difference between holding space and making something happen?” Answering this question led me to conclude that the difference is about the energy these two phrases hold. Energetically “making something happen” feels forced and hurried; whereas, “holding space” is patient, accepting, and inclusive. Apply this to making resolutions. If you catch yourself saying you need to “make something happen”, it might be a sign you’re working against the grain, so to speak. And anytime you’re involved in pursuits that feel forced, hurried, and like a burden, not only are they a struggle and disingenuous, but also who know what you’re missing when you’re out busy “doing”. By holding space for yourself, you’re more likely to make heart-wise steps, open to new directions, and land in a peaceful state of definitiveness.

I recently heard a fun quote from Sylvia Boorstein, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” This might be a good quote to carry with you as you ponder your New Year. Whether you are a yogi or not, the act of sitting (or finding ways to give yourself mental stillness) can be just what you need right now to bridge the gap between pursuit and genuine interest. Your body often speaks in whispers so providing it with quietness and space gives it the opportunity to express what it needs to feel whole, satisfied, complete, and dare I say, “healthy”. I have found it empowering learning to in-source my goals, hopes, and dreams, and there is much greater likelihood of staying with them when they are generated from within. This year when you are making your resolutions, consider whether you gave yourself the space to set goals based on what truly serves you.

{This blog was also featured on Elephant Journal and can be seen here.}