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1. Start at the end. Create a compelling future.
One of the big mistakes of most resolutions is that people make declarations that have little or no passion. Most resolutions are an attempt to fix or correct a bad habit. The negative intention behind the resolution is a sure fire way to seal the deal of failure.
It is much more effective to look at the end result you are committed to having in your life. A friend of mine said that his resolution was to exercise more in 2012. Stated in this way, he is clearly trying to correct his habit of not exercising. My question for him is this: Imagine you succeeded at your resolution and exercised regularly for the entire year. On New Year's eve of 2012, how do you feel? What do you have in your life that you did not have before bringing this into your life? What would you be doing? This is an inquiry into the world of being.
What he would have: Let's say my friend saw that in one year, he would have more energy, vitality and spend more time outdoors in nature.
What he would be doing: He could see that he would be going to the local National Park to hike on the weekends, join a hiking club and walk five miles a day.
Who he would be being: Devoted to being outside.
Do you see the world these three questions build? In light of this compelling future his New Year's Resolution could be something like this:
To be an adventurous and devoted outdoors man.
Clearly, the new resolution holds a whole world in it where the old one had no depth. The key is to state your resolution as a state of being. Being gives us the results we are looking for!
2. Make a list of what being your resolution would have you doing in your life.
Again, step away from fixing yourself. There is no cheese in that tunnel! Instead, step into bringing more joy into your life. Once you find that compelling future, make a list of the things you could do to be that possibility. Brainstorm the world you are creating. Don't worry about getting it right. Just let your creativity roll. View this as a brainstorming session. My personal resolution stated in the old fashion way would be to begin painting again. Imagining in one year:
What I would have: current portfolio of art work, a creative practice, a deep sense of fulfillment, new connections in the art world.
What I would be doing: Joining art organizations, taking art classes, playing with creative thoughts
Who I would be being: passionate, full self-expression with no excuses!
Example of my Resolution as a state of being: To be full blown self-expression. Here is the beginning of my brainstorming-
1. Paint a 5" x 5" watercolor painting every morning as a meditative practice
2. Write poetry.
3. Create a blog of my full blown self-expression.
4. Read books about my favorite artists
5. Study movements of art in history.
6. Visit an art gallery once a week.
7. Enroll in a sculpture class.
and so forth. (I recommend coming up with no less than 50 ideas. Be playful. Be bold and unreasonable with your list. )
3. Make your favorite ideas into goals with specific, measurable results.
Look at your list of ideas and pick your top ten! Put a by-when you will achieve it. Post your top ten list where you will see it. Choose one thing from your list to take on in your life. Commit to it with the passion of knowing the end.
Example: Read books about my favorite artists.
As a goal: Go to the library by January 14 and check out a book about Georgia O'Keefe.
Make your resolution a game, a playful, passionate exploration of what is possible in your life!
This is the kind of work found in my e-course, Resolutions: Creating An Inspired Life.