What to do when resolutions go awry

Mid- to late January seems to be the time when resolutions have either been frustrating or forgotten. What came into being with such enthusiasm and excitement is now ready to be put away like the holiday decorations or hauled away for recycling like the Christmas tree.

Where do you stand on your resolutions?

If you are strongly on the path toward reaching them, then keep going. There’s nothing more powerful than seeing clients who have taken back their power. Their determination and drive gets them through the tough times, and their resiliency keeps them bouncing back, knowing that small setbacks are natural, should be expected and help to make you stronger.

But what about those who are struggling with their resolutions?

What seemed like a good idea, a manageable goal with logical steps, now is a sore spot. Did you set your sights too high? Is it not as important as you originally thought? Are your methods faulty? Are your habits too deeply ingrained?

Instead of examining what went wrong and why you aren’t feeling successful, consider a new, simpler approach.

I came across this exercise in the January 2010 “Conscious Connection Community Newsletter” by Lydia Austin and thought it was a powerful way to move into the New Year.

Make three lists, each on a separate sheet of paper:

— What were your successes in the past year?

— What were your disappointments in the past year?

— What did you learn in the past year?

The answers can come from any of the major areas of your life including career, family and friends, significant other/romance, fun and recreation, health, money, personal growth and physical environment.

Feel free to add other areas important to you.

The “successes” are the things you feel proud about. If you were to create a holiday greeting card this year, these are some of the items you would include. Others items may be very personal successes. Include those as well.

The “disappointments” may be the things you’d rather forget. If you did make resolutions, they probably came from the areas of your life where you feel the most frustration or have experienced the most disappointment.

The real processing begins when you look at what you have learned over the past year. The power of synthesizing your lessons, forgiving yourself and moving forward with new knowledge is what helps to create positive change in your life.

Be gentle with yourself. If finding the lesson about something that happened is difficult, you may still be learning or processing the lesson. Just because the calendar year closes doesn’t mean that your 2009 learning ends.

The final step of the exercise is to burn the first two lists (successes and disappointments) and keep the third list (lessons learned). Although the successes and disappointments were important experiences, it’s the lessons that will help you move forward.

With this fresh perspective, pull out your list of resolutions (if you made one) and reprioritize what is important. You may decide to discard the entire list and start over, or edit the list and keep only what’s most important.

This is YOUR New Year. It’s time to take what you’ve learned and move forward.

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Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For more information, go to: http://www.coachwithsheri.com.


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