Flipping Your New Year's Resolutions on Their Heads

Growing up, New Year’s resolutions never appealed to me. They reeked of regret -- as if, in the year quickly coming to a close, you didn't accomplish everything you wanted and now you were looking back wondering, "what could have been?" and, without contemplation, declaring, "maybe next time." I wanted nothing to do with them. And I still don't.... at least not on those terms. But it took a long, winding road to end up where I began. 

The “wisdom” we possess when we’re adolescents exudes a certain arrogance precisely because it has no experience to back it up. While we might “know” what we’re talking about on a purely logical level, we haven’t been knocked down by the harsh hands of reality to really know it. We know it in the head but not in the heart. Lucky for us, experience comes aplenty the more you live! 

Now, with an extra seventeen years under my belt that really put my teenage sagacity to  the test, New Year’s resolutions come back into focus -- this time, under a lens tempered by yoga, a practice where we fully encounter ourselves. Or at least attempt to, which is good enough. 

I’m not sure why, when or how this door to the self opens -- if it cracks the moment we first walk into yoga class, or when our teachers first say the word samadhi, or when we finally harness the discipline it takes to frequently do something difficult on our own (whether that’s sitting for hours focusing on your breath or Ashtanga). All that doesn’t really matter, either, because the bottom line is this: a consistent yoga practice eventually takes you up, front and center, to the main attraction of your life: you.  

When we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit that sometimes what we see is pretty awesome. Other times, it’s mediocre. And at other times still, it’s downright disturbing. So there we have it -- the good, the bad and the ugly in each of us, staring us down, waiting for us to explore their side of the schoolyard, and all along wagering that we don’t possess the mettle to confront reality. 

Which brings us back to good Auld Lang Syne. As we wind down this last year and prepare for the new, pause. Give yourself a moment (or several) to reflect on what occurred -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and how. Just like Janus, the god who lends his name to the first month of our year, have one head with two faces: one looking back; the other, forward. Take stock of the goals you set up for yourself last January, if you completed them or not, and what piece of yourself allowed either the accomplishment or the failure.  

While an admission of precluded ambitions doesn’t sound as much fun as counting your chips, go ahead and get it out of the way. Acknowledge that some of your old New Year’s resolutions flopped, then own at least some of the responsibility. You’ll feel better. Because when you are truthful with yourself, and you admit your shortcomings and love yourself still, the world opens up. Empowered with self-discovery, self-awareness and self-acceptance, you come full circle--more whole, integrated and authentic -- ready to receive all the good coming your way. 

So take your New Year’s resolutions and flip them on their heads. Shake them loose and watch all the pieces tumble out. Then, honestly assess the situation. Pick up and look at every last little one closely, with compassion for yourself foremost. Once you see your past goals and your part in the process with clarity, reassess, reassemble and reconstruct them so that, this time, your new year's resolutions become more than blind habit -- they now have the power to transform your life.  

Remember: everything you want to become is already within you and has been since day one.  Happy New Year!!

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