Why resolutions don’t work—and what to do instead | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


As the year approaches its end, we reflect on the year that was, realizing yet again the negative patterns that took over our positive will. While many have accepted themselves, saying, “That’s just who I am,” with self-limiting excuses like “Can’t teach old dogs new tricks,” many others still strive to make themselves better, one ever-slow step at a time.New Year’s resolutions and promises are made anew. These resolutions take effect for a month at best, and we go back to our old habits once again.

This repetitive cycle causes negative internal dialogues that develop into damaging narratives of who we are, and the potential of who we can be. Years of this result in lack of self-trust, sometimes leading to self-hatred. The self-critic later progresses into a cranky personality that drives the anxious and nervous energy up wherever he or she goes.

Changing a behavior

Why do resolutions fail?

Many resolutions are about changing a behavior—eat less, exercise more, say kind words, less curse words, be nicer.

These behaviors are what we call parts of the outer game. As a car engine is able to run only with the right mechanisms in place—different parts in working form, water and lubricant at the right level, enough fuel—our words and behaviors are the outcome of mechanisms that churn within us. If a car isn’t working as it should, a mechanic looks under the car hood to see what’s causing the malfunction. For humans, the equivalent is looking at the programming that produces the actions.

One of the major causes of today’s society being tired, anxious, exhausted and angry comes from the Do-Have-Be mindset. Many of us have been wired to keep working until we have enough to deserve to rest and be happy. While working can be great, how the Do-Have-Be mindset influences our working styles becomes the problem.

Many parents, schools and companies train people to just toil, ignore emotions, compete against everyone else, criticize themselves in the process and not stop until the finish line is reached. The problem is, the finish line is always adjusted each time it’s crossed. The goals are always bigger and higher, and we never allow the pit stops we need to keep going through the race.

That’s what life has started to feel like—a never-ending race where the goal is never met, the recognition is always undeserved. We’re afraid a pat on the back will make us complacent. Some believe a simple “thanks” or “good job” will make one become lazy and useless in an instant.

We’ve been conditioned to run and fight with no end in sight. This is why so many people are unhappy no matter what they can afford, no matter what they’ve achieved. They say they’re happy, but they don’t look or act it. And we’re surprised that mental health issues abound.

Shifting mindset

Shifting the mindset to Be-Do-Have focuses on the inner game, the engine that produces everything evidenced externally. Starting with Be-ing means coming from the assumption that who I am is a person deserving of good physical and mental health, fulfilling work, supportive relationships, love and recognition.When we come from this foundation, the mechanism of taking care of ourselves becomes automatic. We can still enjoy delicious food and will know our limits in order to stay physically healthy. Physical activities will stop being punishments or sacrifices, and will shift to acts of love directed to ourselves. Sleep will naturally take priority over binge-watching. We’ll be able to choose what content to take in, knowing how they impact our mental health.

Wanting supportive relationships around us will determine who stays in our lives. Staying in the same job or leaving will be an easier decision to make. When we know we deserve love and recognition, we will be more generous with giving them to ourselves.

Coming from being a healthy identity of self, we choose personal and professional growth aligned with our values and the better world we want to have. When we think that each person deserves the same space in the world, we respect them more, and know that we don’t need to cut someone’s throat to shine. This opens us to collaboration and a better working environment.

We don’t need resolutions to be the person we want to be—just start with being that person. This will be the compass for what we should do, and how to live our lives.

When we choose continuous growth out of an abundance mindset, we are bound to excel more and have the life we have always wanted. One shift is all it takes, and your whole life trajectory shifts with it. —Contributed INQ

The author is an executive coach and organizational development consultant. Email her at [email protected].


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