A few years ago I heard a great definition of the word “expectation”: preconceived resentment. This is an apt description of what happens when we get emotionally attached to our desires.
It’s New Year’s day. I want to offer my definition of “resolution”: preconceived failure.
“Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year. 49% have infrequent success. 24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed. (from Steve Shapiro)
So who is it that thought it was that important to make new year’s resolutions that we know we will break within days if not hours of our decision? And why do we keep repeating the pattern?
But we want our lives to be better! How do we go about doing it?
I have three pieces to the puzzle of a new transforming way of entering the new year.
Peter Bregman wrote an interesting piece for the Harvard Business Review on the failure of goal setting. (Don’t set goals, choose focus)
In the article he cited studies which show that Big Hairy Audacious Goals don’t really work the way they are intended. Not only do they set people and organizations up for failure, but they are also easy to circumvent and cheat.
Instead he counsels us to choose areas of focus for our time and energy:
“A goal defines an outcome you want to achieve; an area of focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing. A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path. A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.
I have struggled with failure and procrastination. I am still learning about the importance of staying present and living my process. This greater process I call God’s fully dimensional life.
Where I am now is not where God wants me to be, yet where I am now is where God loves me fully.
So, goal setting is counter-productive, but being intentional about what we focus our time and energy on is a good direction to head. That is the first piece of my puzzle.
The second piece of the puzzle comes from Leonard Sweet:
Don't "plan" your way forward in 2013; prophesy your way forward,which is based on preparedness & trust, not planning & control.
— Leonard Sweet (@lensweet) December 27, 2012
One of the traps of goal setting and resolutions for me is that focus on control. Control is an activity of the ego self that constructs a reality that matches its view of what is important. The problem? When we center our lives on self-made constructs we live out of balance. We live limited lives.
A fully dimensional life is founded on the Essence of God’s presence not on anything or anyone else (including our selves).
When we get caught up in power and control we fail because so much of existence is beyond our control. So we set ourselves up for disappointment.
A life that focuses on preparedness and trust is responsive to our present reality and to the living work of the Creator. It is a life that remains open to God’s promise and possibilities.
One last piece to my puzzle. This time from my Uncle Bob Farr.
I said to the man at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread into the unknown.’ He said to me, ‘Put your hand into the hand of God, and that shall be better for you than a light to your way or a map to the path to be taken.’
When we focus on specific goals and resolutions we unwittingly place all the emphasis on what we can do and what is important and significant to us. When we do that we take the guiding wind and waves of the Spirit out of the equation and place ourselves in the role of source and initiator.
However, when we reconnect with the Author of the Universe for the direction of our daily lives we renew our participation in something that is so much greater than we can ever imagine.
On this New Year’s Day I am renewing my focus on
- Remaining open to God’s possibilities,
- Reconnecting with living guidance of God’s Spirit, and
- Centering and focusing my life on the Energy which fills the universe.
Over the next week I will be share more about my focus areas for the new year.
What will you focus on this year?