New Year’s resolutions aren’t for me. But it’s not because they don’t work.
Imagine someone saying, “Promises don’t work. Everytime I make them, I just end up breaking them.”
The problem isn’t promises. It’s the person making them.
Very few people actually make commitments in the true meaning of the word. They relate to ‘commitments’ (i.e. resolutions and promises) more so as ‘intentions’.
I think people either avoid making commitments – or say they are making them when really just expressing a desire or intention – because it scares the shit out of them to commit.
There is the fear of FAILURE of course. Ironically though, avoiding commitment guarantees failure anyway. I figure that if my default future without action is failure, I may as well make a concerted effort NOT to fail.
The other fear is the loss of FREEDOM. I can relate to this because there was a time when I feared commitment for exactly this reason.
After spending three years living nomadically and buying only one-way tickets, committing to anything felt impossibly scary to me. I remember my hand shaking when winding down my travels, I was signing a six month lease in London. I lifted the pen from the page and put it back down a few times before finally inking my name.
I don’t fear commitment anymore though. These days I actually experience the exact opposite; the more committed I am, the more freedom I have.
Some insight into how and why this is can actually be found by looking at the root of the word ‘resolution’.
‘Resolution’, as in “a firm decision to do something”, comes from the word ‘resolve’, meaning “determination, firmness or fixedness of purpose”. The noun ‘resolve’ comes from the verb form of the word, which itself is an evolution of the Latin word ‘resolvere’.
In Latin, ‘resolvere’ literally means “to loosen, relax, set free”.
In the 1500’s, the idea of breaking something into parts by loosening, relaxing and setting free was considered a way to arrive at the truth of the thing and thus make a final determination. In this way, by resolving we come to a purpose we can be fixed on.
This is exactly my experience.
Before a commitment my mind is busy with considerations and hanging tightly on to ALL possibilities. Once I make a commitment though – once I have resolve – I find that my mind loosens it’s grip on everything else and relaxes into it’s fixed purpose.
The silence and stillness in the wake of an absolute commitment is pure freedom.
My clients will recognize this in the idea we often work with around how to use time: “Structure creates freedom.”
This is the same principle. By creating structure (commitment, resolution, etc) around how you use your time, you actually create more FREE time. (Nobody usually believes it until they experience it though!)
My reason for NOT making New Years Resolutions is not because they don’t work. It is because I make them all of the time, continuously throughout the year.
A resolution is a commitment and a true commitment – where one has absolute resolve – is one of the most powerful tools for self-liberation that I’ve ever found.
If you were to set yourself free through making a resolution, what would you resolve to do?