Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but academic research shows that only about 8% of them are fully carried out or kept throughout the duration of the year.
If you’re like most people, you may have spent this past week reflecting, thinking, and recording the ways that you want your 2017 to be different than 2016. The New Year is met with expectation and excitement. We imagine the possibilities of all the days we haven’t lived yet. We imagine the best for ourselves. We want to lose weight. Save more money. Work less. Invest in our relationships. Learn a new language. Master a new skill. Practice self-care. Reconnect with lost friends. Reconcile family relationships. Travel more. Be more present. Go to church regularly. Start a business. Volunteer. Buy a house. Be engaged in local community matters. Be in a happy relationship. The list is endless.
But if you’re like most people, your resolution to lose those five to ten pounds you accumulated, pay off debt, call you mom once a week, or “be a better person” usually dissipates by the time the first week of February rolls around.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting goals that are too broad, unrealistic, too big, too many, or lack the proper resources or support system around to ensure the success of the desired resolution.
A lot of our resolutions fail year after year because we neglect to do the work of digging deep and aligning our resolutions to our core needs. Our fundamental core needs include respect, trust, recognition, acceptance, power, caring, control, love, integrity, and commitment. Many of these go back to our childhood, family of origin, past relationships, and varied life experiences. These needs are to be recognized, known about ourselves, and hopefully shared with those around us in close relational proximity. But before we bring them outward, we must do the work inward to actualize them. If we don't work to evaluate our core needs in our lives we instead will create surface level fixes that never seem to quench the insatiable desire to be loved, accepted, or in control. And because of that, we create resolutions that stay on the surface all the while masking our hidden issues and core needs.
If we stay on the surface level with our identity, we will put a surface fix on it.
This year, as you’re writing down your resolutions, I want you to consider making this one the only one you will need in 2017: stop performing.
If we find ourselves in spaces that we perform or contort ourselves to be more desirable, acceptable, likable, affirmed, or welcomed then those aren't the spaces, people, or relationships we need to be in.
Because in order to stay in said spaces we will keep having to do what goes against the order of who we are. The reality is every time we contort or perform we diminish our value, minimize our worth, contract instead of expand, and tear away the parts of ourselves that actually make us whole. If we keep contorting ourselves we'll never be free to stretch out and be who we are, what is most comfortable, and what we need to be for ourselves and the world around us.
As you move toward the best version of yourself, you may be met with skepticism, lack of support, or judgment by people telling you not to do what you’re doing. Or they say, “I don’t like this version of you."
When someone else says "no" to what you want to do or who you want to become, it (generally) has nothing to do with you. Instead, it is a flashback and rehearsal of all the times someone told them "no" to their personhood, humanity, goals, dreams, desires, and aspirations. People can only meet us where they are and through the depth of the relationship that they have with themselves. Other people and their responses to your self-discovery have nothing to do with you. You work is to figure out who you are, what you need, and how to love and care for yourself.
In those moments when others words don't match the intentions you have for yourself, I invite you to expand, not contract and be more you.
Your biggest need is to both love and fully be yourself.
If you chase your liberation like you do their acceptance, you will finally get free.
In 2017, resolve to stop performing.
You are worthy just the way you are.
May you prosper and be in good health as your soul prospers.
Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!