The new year always gives us an opportunity for reflection as well as for promise, and maybe a little bit of imagination. While semi-artificial, January 1 represents a line in the sand for many of us that gives voice to resolutions and things we will do differently moving forward. That is good – we all need a starting point to improve and a new year is a good visible benchmark. But statistics say that only 8% of people keep those resolutions, either because they are hard to maintain or because the elation of the holiday has passed. That’s why this year I am laying out a different challenge, to myself and to everyone else. Let’s move from resolutions to renewal.
What is Renewal?
Renewal is a central outcome of Leadership Zen, one of our Three Ideals, and a sustainable enabler of the MBSS Connection we spend so much time talking about here. It represents the ability to understand and to tend to the energy needs of your body, your mind, your soul, and your spirit. This requires both a high degree of authenticity as well as a strong commitment to practice. It’s an area we often neglect.
If we take a look at the type of resolutions that people make every year – and they are remarkably similar – we tend to consciously or otherwise focus on the same things. We vow to lose weight. We promise to eat better, or to curb our perceived vices. We will try to spend more wisely, to live life more purposefully and fully, and to spend more time with family. These commitments are elements of renewal, but how we approach it after January 1st can make the difference between success and failure of our endeavors.
Why We’re Not Great at Resolutions
No one sets out to fail at their resolutions. The problem tends to lie in how much we seek to accomplish and how we expect to bring the outcomes to life. Some key reasons for that failure are:
- We think too big. It’s great to decide to exercise five days a week for an hour. But what if heading into 2018 you didn’t exercise at all? That kind of jump makes it hard to meet that goal, and failing to do so can be demotivating and lead to moving on to something new.
- We think too ambiguously. To get something done it’s imperative to set specific goals. To simply decide, “I want to lose weight,” doesn’t help to structure activities that can bring that to life. It’s important to provide measurements that allow you to track progress, remain inspired and motivated, and ultimately achieve your goal.
- We don’t plan. Like anything else it is far too easy to state a goal without having a plan to accomplish it. Again it makes it hard to stay motivated if you don’t know how to achieve your goal.
It is possible to be successful in making resolutions. But if we look at it from a more holistic perspective, we can achieve not only a greater level of success, but also lay down a lifelong foundation that makes resolutions less important year to year because we’re doing the right things along the way.
Nurturing the Mind, Body, Soul, and Spirit
Making the leap from resolution to renewal is more than figuring out how to be more successful with these goals. It requires structuring them to support long-term growth and sustainability by creating habits on which to build a strong foundation. That means focusing on personal leadership that results in a greater sense of purpose which strengthens motivation and resolve. When we frame goals as a launching point for lasting success instead of aiming for a moment in time, those habits grow naturally from our efforts. That’s how the Six Commitments of Leadership Zen work.
The challenge for 2018 lies in elevating our resolutions to that kind of commitment. One way to do this is to focus on the MBSS Connection, building nurturing growth in the mind, body, soul, and spirit. This approach transitions from, “I am going to lose weight,” to “I am going to lead a healthier lifestyle.” Your goal may be to shed those 10 pounds, but the way you get there is more comprehensive. It allows for a slip in say, exercise while still working towards having a better diet. Looking at your goals in terms of a holistic approach to balance and harmony helps ensure a greater chance of success by opening up possibilities on how to achieve it. It is also a deeper type of commitment that avoids the yo-yo effect of many resolutions.
Strategies for 2018
So how to make the leap? Here are some strategies for changing resolutions into lifelong renewal:
- Engage your curiosity to engage the mind. There are countless perspectives out there that can inform our own. That is how we grow our personal leadership as well as our professional effectiveness. Commit to reading four extra books this year, and make at least one something outside of your comfort zone. Be open minded.
- Exercise to nourish the body – then move into a generally healthier lifestyle. The benefits of exercise go far beyond weight loss – but the weight will likely come off as well. Make it a habit by establishing a routine of doing something for 30 minutes a day, every day – even if it is just a brisk walk. Slowly build from there. Don’t look at the scale – focus on your commitment to the work. Expand that to diet once you have 28 days of habitual exercise behind you. If you have dropped pounds it will help sustain a change in diet, which can be difficult for some.
- Be authentic to ground the soul. A key commitment for 2018, live according to your true inner self. Challenge external conflicts and constantly evaluate if the decisions you make align with who you really are. There is no magical formula for this, but if you feel stressed or anxious in parts of your life it might be a good place to start looking.
- Meditate or pray to connect to your spirit. We all have different spiritual leanings, but it is important to remain connected to a higher purpose. Find yours within your own spirituality and commit to making it a part of your daily life. The key is to make it come from inside of you, not from external “requirements.” Your spirit should be nurtured from a very personal space of your own creation. Anything else is a guide.
We’ll be writing more on this throughout the year, but it’s a decent starting point. Resolve and commit, and 2018 can be a year of renewal and the beginning of a better lifestyle, not just a new year.