If you're making a resolution this year, here are three keys to making them last.
My favorite slang word used in golf is "mulligan." A mulligan is a chance to replay a shot you didn’t like. It’s a do-over. Even if your only experience with golf is putting into the clown’s mouth, you know that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you hit an awful shot and you want to cheat or do it over again.
In my relationship coaching practice, my clients often want mulligans for their love lives. Perhaps loneliness caused them to ignore a few "red flags" and it came back to bite them. Perhaps they were blinded by chemistry and decided to have sex too soon. Perhaps they fell for the same kind of partner—again—and found themselves reliving the same old pattern, which, of course, leads to the same old pain. My clients often want a mulligan for their love lives.
Others want to "take a mulligan" for more traditional things like losing the 15 pounds they put on since Thanksgiving, or kicking that bad habit or sticking to a budget. Perhaps they’ve procrastinated about finding a better job, starting a business, committing to a regular meditation practice or even writing a book. Whatever it is, we often want a mulligan, a fresh start, a chance to "play" better, and the new-year offers that.
It doesn’t matter what area of your life needs a "do-over," there are 3 keys to keeping your New Year’s resolutions. In fact, it’s as easy as learning your ABC’s.
When it comes to resolutions, the real issue is not making them, but keeping them. And in my experience, we don’t keep our resolutions because we make them for the wrong reasons. The change we desire does not come from our deepest heart, our inner truth, but from some external source.
The reality is that most people make resolutions because someone or something "out there" thinks they should be living differently, in one way or another. These "shoulds" may come from parents, potential or actual partners, doctors, trainers, therapists, friends or from the culture in general. Everyone has an opinion as to how you should live and what you should do.
Yet the sneakiest "shoulds" often come from our egos. Many times our motivation to change some aspect of our lives is driven, not be our authenticity, but by our insecurity. Too often we are completely unaware that what really drives us is our desperate need for the affection, attention and approval of others. We want to manage our image, impress others and control people’s opinions of us.
I have found that if the motivation for change originates from the "shoulds" of others or the "shoulds" of the ego, no permanent transformation will take place. Your resolutions have to be made from an awareness of your deepest truth. In other words, it has to be something YOU really want. And when you really want something, you’ll never lack the motivation to make your resolution a permanent reality.
So awareness is the first key to keeping your resolutions. It’s not about being aware of what you want; it’s about being aware of why you want it. Ask yourself: "What’s the REAL reason I’m making this resolution?" Then sit quietly, and within seconds, the truth will make itself known to you. If you discover your resolutions are not coming from your deepest heart, don’t bother making them. They won’t last.
The second key to keeping your resolutions is to ensure that everything in your life is aligned with realizing your resolution. This is done by setting boundaries.
A ruthless inventory of your life is necessary. Is anything or anyone at odds with, or incongruent with, your resolution? Some hard choices may have to be made concerning your finances, occupation, schedule, refrigerator and pantry, as well as your relationships, both personal and professional. If anything or anyone is not aligned with your resolution it has to go.
In the ancient scriptures, the holy places were vigilantly protected. It was sacred space and nothing was allowed to contaminate it. You have to view your life like that. It too is sacred space. Firm, non-negotiable boundaries must be set. Anything or anybody that is in conflict with your resolution must go. Zero tolerance.
Most people have a really difficult time with Awareness and Boundaries. They’re definitely easier said than done. When it comes to awareness, many of us have spent our entire lives controlled by the opinions of others, and frankly, we may not know the first thing about the ego. So being aware of our true motivations isn’t as easy as it sounds.
And setting boundaries is no picnic either. "No" is the most difficult little word in the English language. And the idea of creating sacred space? Well, it sounds good, but how exactly do you do that? And how do you know if a particular relationship is incongruent with your resolution, and if it is, how do you handle that?
Living with awareness and setting boundaries is much easier said than done. And that’s where coaching comes in. I’ve had a coach now for almost a decade. I don’t know where my life would be if I didn’t have a coach to help me be more self-aware and create a structure for my life. In my view, coaching is the missing link to fulfilling our resolutions.
Have you noticed that the vast majority of successful people have coaches? They recognize that they need support in overcoming self-delusion and ending self-sabotaging patterns. They need someone to challenge their stories and assumptions; they need someone to ask them the right questions, and they even need someone to kick them in the ass occasionally. Coaching has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. In fact, I’m became a coach to give others the same life-changing experience I’ve had.
Do you want to live an effective, conscious life? Do you want to create and maintain a great relationship? Then why don’t you have a coach? Perhaps THAT should be your New Year’s Resolution—to finally invite someone into your life to support your self-awareness, help you set boundaries, and ultimately, fulfill your resolutions.
Every day is a mulligan. Every moment is a chance for a "do-over" and a fresh start. Learn your ABC’s and design the life, and the love life, you’ve always wanted.
ROY BIANCALANA is a certified relationship coach and author of, Attracting Lasting Love: Breaking Free of the 7 Barriers that Keep You Single. He works with single people in the art of attraction, dating and creating conscious relationships. For more information, visit his website, www.coachingwithroy.com.