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Imagine if New Year's resolutions 2012you will, all those dreams that you have for yourself that you have bundled up neatly in a pack of New Year’s resolutions.

That’s right, the ones that you keep by your bedside table, or by your computer monitor on a yellow sticky post it note. . .or maybe it is on your bathroom mirror so that you can affirm it morning and night.

Are You Doomed To Fail at Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions?

78 % of people, according to a study done by Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire, FAIL at keeping their New Year’s resolutions or goals.This statistic surprised me!

I knew the failure rate was high for goals that we set at the beginning of the year but I did not know it was this high! Hmmm. . .really steep number there.

Want to know how you can beat the odds?  Keep reading. . .let’s see if we can figure this one out, shall we?

Avoid These Mistakes When You Make Your Goals (at Any Time)

Perhaps the problem is not in the making of goals at the beginning of the year, but of choosing a goal that is culturally acceptable and not one that you really, really want.  Let’s take Ann for an example.

She is a 42 year old mother of three who is 35 pounds overweight. At the fresh start of a year, Ann typically makes a New Year’s resolution to kick those 35 pounds to the curb.

She invests in a piece of exercise equipment and a shiny new diet plan. Ann kicks things into high gear by throwing out all of the yummy fare left over from the feasts of the holidays and she feels a sense of power as she does it.

Eventually, the equipment will be her clothes hanger, sitting forlornly in the corner of her bedroom; but her hopes are high as she plunks down her credit card for 5 easy payments and the promise of a svelte new her.

Ann posts affirmations all over the house and vows that this will be the year that she gets it done. Two weeks later, Ann is sneaking off to the local coffee shop for doughnuts in the middle of the day, the new diet all but forgotten.

Guilt eats at her as she throws back the last crumbs of her ill gotten snack.  She slinks back home and sees the shiny exercise equipment sitting in the corner, her bathrobe slung over it.  

Inside, she is screaming at herself, telling herself how weak she is and how everyone else is a success, except for her. . .does any of this sound familiar?

What is Wrong With this Picture?

Let’s rewind the film for a moment.  Ann has focused on the symptom, not the actual problem. She has seen the extra poundage, labeled it the enemy and gone to war.  It is admirable in one way. . .

. . .except that she is going through the motions and thinks she SHOULD go after this particular goal.

Ann is a woman who takes care of her husband, her children, does more than her share of work at her job, and is a volunteer on two committees in her community.  

She is in a state of chronic sleep deprivation and can’t remember the last time she just sat down and read a book for pleasure or had a hot bubble bath in a quiet, candle lit bathroom.

Underneath her picking this particular goal is the belief “I am not good enough. In order to be accepted, I must change.  I am not acceptable the way that I am”.

She is NOT making a resolution from a position of power. “I love myself; therefore, I set a goal to release 35 pounds in order to honor my core value of health.”

What Lies Beneath New Year’s Resolutions that Fail

  • Limiting beliefs, like our friend Ann had
  • Feeling like you “have to” do it, a sense of obligation that comes from outside of you, an external authority
  • Choosing a goal that you does not inspire you, that does not set a light inside of you, even a small one
  • Picking a goal that is overwhelming or too far in the future so that it seems unreachable

The only two reasons people take action are to avoid pain or to increase pleasure.  See where you are coming from.  Are you moving towards a goal or are you moving away from a negatively perceived situation?

If and When You Decide To Pick a Goal to Go After

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why this goal?  
  • Is it in line with your core values?
  • Is it for you, only?  That is, are you the only one who determines the outcome, it is not dependent on the actions of others. . .
  • Do you really want it?  

2013 New Year’s: 7 Steps to Doing Resolutions Differently

  1. Catch a vision of what your future would look like if you actually accomplished the goal
  2. If you can’t see it or it doesn’t feel right to you, then it is time to clear out and toss any negative beliefs surrounding that particular goal
  3. Clarify the goal; be very, very specific in your language
  4. Break your goal into easy,manageable chunks (start with a small goal so that you will trust yourself to accomplish it.  Establishing trust with yourself and knowing that you can depend on you will lead to great things.)
  5. Make a decision that you will accomplish it 
  6. Allow yourself to accomplish it, give yourself permission to succeed
  7. See your goals accomplished as if now

It is important to dream big and perhaps for you, you can. However, if you have made BIG goals in the past and failed to follow through on them, there is a little part of you that might be whispering in your ear, expecting you to fail.

Start small, uncover the negative beliefs, kick them to the curb and build on small successes.  Then your dreams will expand to grow bigger and bigger, just like that.

We all make goals and resolutions, some just happen to be at the beginning of a New Year. . .it symbolizes a clean slate for us, a time of renewal.  You can even decide to not make resolutions at New Year’s. . .there is nothing wrong with that!

Here is to a 2013 filled with your success and prosperity and resolutions that you can love and accomplish! If you do choose to make your resolutions and goals now, become a part of the 22 % who do succeed! Give yourself that gift, you deserve it, you know. . .

“Drive your own life. . .you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner

**Photo credit:  Frapestaartje (Creative Commons)

Update: This post was originally published in 2011 for the 2012 New Year. I have changed the date because the principles remain the same, this year! : D

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I rememberCourage is what it takes to stand up and speak being in a meeting. There was a discussion going on and I felt like I was prevented from speaking up.

No. It wasn’t that anyone said directly to me that I couldn’t say anything.

It was a small inner voice…deep inside of my mind…that niggling little voice that said “No…you can’t say anything…what would they think if you said that?” That’s right…

I was afraid to express my opinion because I was afraid of what they would think of me.

The problem with that is that I valued their opinion of me more than I valued saying what I thought. How hurtful to me was that? If you have ever been in that situation…you know what I mean…

Is There Ever a Time to Keep Quiet?

Yes. I believe there is. That time to keep quiet is evident when we know that we have a choice to stay silent…when it is in the best interest of the other person to not say anything.

When my children were small and were making mistakes, I often kept quiet, if they were mistakes that weren’t harmful to their physical or emotional selves. If it was appropriate for me to let them experience natural consequences, I let it happen.

However, if you are in a situation where you aren’t keeping quiet for the good of the person involved (never tell your mate that they look fat in an outfit, by the way…then, it is good form to keep quiet…or maybe say that the clothes don’t suit them).

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

If you are not saying anything because of fear…that is a different story all together, isn’t it?

Then, you are moving away from something…you aren’t moving toward an ending that you want…you are trying to get away from a negative…and that is governed by a deeper fear…such as “I’m not good enough to say anything”…

Speaking Up Because You Feel Like You Matter Enough 

You matter. Your opinion matters. Do you have memories of being ridiculed as a child for speaking up? I finally realized that that was what was underneath that fear of speaking up in that group.

If you have a time like that…when you felt shamed by peers or teachers or parents for having had the courage to speak your mind…even if you were not right…it was your opinion…and you are entitled to it.

Remember that time…and go back to it…and let those emotions go…because if there were people there who did that…who ridiculed and jeered…they were wrong…opinions need respect…and we can all agree to disagree…can’t we?

And when you have let those emotions go…you can imagine a time when you have an opinion…and you can express it…with words that matter…with kind words that respect other people’s opinions too…because often it’s in how we say it, too…not just what we say…

We are all important and what we think is important. Measure your words and feel like you can say what you need to say…be respectful in your tone…and it’s not about whether they agree with you or not…speaking up is your right…

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner

 

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Ebenezer ScroogeDo you need to tame your inner Scrooge
in “A Christmas Carol” wasn’t a likeable character, in the beginning of the story.

As a child, I remember reading the well-loved classic by Charles Dickens many times. It was and still is a favorite of mine.

Through a series of events, changes and big projects this fall, I was behind in getting my Christmas shopping done. As I plowed through the crowds that were pushing and shoving, right before this up and coming Christmas, I felt my inner Scrooge starting to rise up from the depths.

“Bah, humbug” was the expression that Ebenezer Scrooge used and I felt myself thinking it. There was still food to make, gifts to get, presents to wrap…and the time was quickly slipping by. So what did I do to let go of this mindset?

Give Your Inner Scrooge the Boot

  • Let go of any idea of a “perfect” Christmas. It doesn’t exist. Really.
  • Do your best and be okay with that.
  • Take a deep breath and then another.
  • Take a bath.
  • Be grateful for what you have…when you count your blessings and focus on that, then that “Bah, humbug” feeling goes away.
  • Sort your priorities, do what’s most important first (like family time…relaxed family time) and let the rest go.
  • Step out of the frenzy of shopping, baking, and parties. Pare down and cut back. You will thank yourself and maybe, your wallet will thank you too. In our family, we gave up buying presents for everyone…we draw names. Not only is this a budget saver, it’s a time saver, too…and we really need to value our time, don’t we?
  • Ask yourself “What is really important to me about Christmas?” Is it the gifts, the food, or the relationships that you have with friends, family, loved ones? Is there a deeper, spiritual meaning for you?

So, I told my inner Scrooge to settle down…to look at what was important…to let go of what wasn’t…and to enjoy what was really important to me…

Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” realized that what was most important to him was his family and the relationships that he had with them and his employee Bob Cratchit and his family. Don’t sacrifice the relationships you have for an “ideal” picture of Christmas…or any other holiday, for that matter.

Embrace the Moment

Embrace the moment, enjoy your loved ones and the time that you have with them. Life brings changes and even though we can accept 100% responsibility for our lives, there are aspects that are beyond our control. So enjoy the now.

Scrooge learned that he couldn’t change the past…and the future is yet unwritten…we only have now…to make those changes…don’t we?

I wish you all the best in this holiday season, no matter what you celebrate…

And in the words of the lovely Tiny Tim “God bless us….every one!”

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?”  Sherie Venner

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If you haveWhich came first weak boundaries or relationship anxiety relationship anxiety, this might sound familiar. Are you willing to over commit? Do you sacrifice yourself on the altar of your relationship?

Do you have a tendency to be the one who always makes the compromise? Do you give up what you need in order to salvage the relationship?

If any of this rings a bell for you…or you feel taken for granted…or relationship anxiety is a reality for you…read on…

I have a client who just recently left her relationship because the boundary between her and her significant other were murky. She gave too much. She sacrificed the life that she wanted…in order to please her partner…and in doing so…she lost a big part of herself.

Fortunately, for her, she was able to see that there was a problem, and in spite of having anxiety about the relationship, was able to see her way clear to discovering who she was again…even though the cost was the relationship.

Sometimes…when we begin a relationship on the wrong foot…when one person is continually giving too much…putting their needs last…the relationship can’t survive.

Which Came First? Weak Boundaries or Relationship Anxiety?

This really is a chicken or the egg question, isn’t it? There probably is no right answer but I will go out on a limb, here. I think it is the relationship anxiety…

Because a person who feels good about themselves…who believes that relationships can add to their lives…and who feels confident when going into a relationship…doesn’t let their boundaries get soft…and merge with another person in order to feel good about themselves.

We develop weak boundaries when we are made to feel guilty…to feel shame…as small children. We develop limiting beliefs that we are not good enough…or that we are “less than”…and so we hide who we really believe that we are…

We think that if other people really knew who we were, they wouldn’t have anything to do with us. We can think this of people who tell us that they love us…we can think this of people who marry us.

If You are Hiding Who You Are

Then, it stands to reason, that you would be anxious. There would be that constant state of anxiety because you would be afraid that someone would discover who you really were.

What kind of life is that? To hide yourself…no wonder that relationship anxiety is so powerful…

We hide ourselves because we don’t believe that it is safe to be us. At some point in time, in the past, a negative emotional event happened…and when it did…you drew a conclusion about yourself.

Was that conclusion true? Absolutely not…because it isn’t true that you are less than magnificent…just because you can’t see it, doesn’t make it so…

Let Go of the Fear that is Relationship Anxiety

Anxiety is just fear. It is fear of an imagined future. When we have relationship anxiety that goes hand in hand with weak boundaries, we don’t feel safe because there is no structure…no place where we can pinpoint where we are in space…the point where the other begins…

My client made a decision to let go of the anxiety that was plaguing her in her relationship. She began to define herself as an individual….ask yourself this question:

Who am I without a relationship?

In order to not have relationship anxiety, you actually need to know who you are without a relationship.

You need to feel that you can survive without a relationship.

The minute that having a relationship becomes less significant to you…when you can take one or leave one….then the relationship anxiety goes away.

You have value whether you have a relationship or not. When I was single, I found my husband once I let go of the attachment to ever having a relationship…it’s strange how that works…it’s almost like we push away, energetically, the very thing that we are wanting so much…

Because if you want it so much…it’s because you don’t have it…let go of that wanting energy…you can only want something you don’t have…when you have the energy of having it…you can let it in…it is a bit convoluted…but if you think about it for a while…it does make sense.

Redefining Yourself and Setting New Boundaries

It is time to set limits…to redefine yourself. Be willing to ask the tough questions that you have been putting off.

  • Who am I without a relationship?
  • What is important to me? What do I value?
  • If I were to be alone for the rest of my life, what would I want to accomplish?

When you know yourself…when you develop a greater self-esteem…your boundaries automatically get strengthened. You can see where you stop and the other begins…

The anxiety about being in relationship goes away with firm boundaries…because you don’t fear getting hurt. You know who you are. You’re happy with who you are. You aren’t dependent on feeling good just because someone else cares about you. You already feel good about yourself.

Then…that relationship anxiety can just slip away…into the night…and disappear…just like that….

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner

 

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Have youtrust your hunches ever had  gut feelings…even a simple hunch…and you didn’t follow it…and then ended up regretting it?

I was in the grocery store the other day. I had my little list clenched in my hand and I was going up and down the aisles…stocking my cart with the items on that list.

I passed by the ketchup as I was reaching for the mustard that was on the list. I thought to myself “I should pick some of that up”…then I thought, no, we must have another bottle in the pantry.

Now, I had just reorganized the pantry…I had taken everything out, cleaned out the shelves, put like items with like in baskets…so I thought that there must have been a bottle of ketchup there.

You can probably guess at what happened next, right? I didn’t get the ketchup…and when I got home and started putting all those groceries away…I kept an eye out for that telltale bottle of red tomato ketchup…

It wasn’t there. In fact…the bottle in the fridge was on its last legs, as well. There was enough for a day…maybe two. In our family, we like one particular brand and it is only at our local Superstore. Strangely enough, we don’t like the big brand. LOL

So, it became necessary to make another trip to that store…simply because I didn’t pay attention to that tiny niggling gut feeling. Now, that is an inconvenience, but it isn’t that serious, right?

Is it Gut Feelings, a Hunch… or is it a Red Flag?

What if you are in a relationship…and you have a feeling…a little stirring in your gut… that something is wrong? It might not be a simple matter of intuition…it might actually be a red flag that those gut feelings are pointing to…that there is real problem.

Here are some examples of huge red flags:

  • There is name calling and when you call them on it, they say they are just joking
  • You feel like you are being ignored, even when you have clearly communicated a need for more interaction
  • Your opinion is shot down, often even before you open your mouth
  • You are the only one who gives in the relationship and the other person does a lot of taking, especially financially and/or emotionally
  • You want to continue in a relationship with your family and they put up roadblocks, such as blaming your family for your relationship problems
  • Your activities are restricted…and they need to know where you are at all times

When you are in a relationship where any of these behaviors occur, you might not be able to see them…even if friends and family point them out to you. In fact, you might resent that your friends and family have the nerve to even bring this up to you.

However, deep down inside…there probably is a niggling…a hunch if you will…a gut feeling…that something just isn’t right…
You need to look at that…and look at the behaviors…step back and see if there is any truth in what your family and friends are telling you…what do you see?

If you are upping the use of alcohol, drugs (prescription or other), overeating or overspending or any other self- medicating activity, there is an issue that you are trying to hide from. Bring it out in the open…because only then…when you face that dragon…can you begin to fix the issue and heal…

“Trust your hunches…. Hunches are usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” Dr. Joyce Brothers

When you have those gut feelings…listen if there is a thought that accompanies them…make a mental note of that thought…and ask yourself “What is the underlying message here? Is there one?”…because it might just be fear of stepping outside of our comfort zone…and that is very different…isn’t it?

Gut feelings can be big…gut feelings can be small…whatever it is…pay attention to the meaning that is underneath that hunch…it may save you an extra trip to the grocery store…or it may save you a massive amount of heartache…it really is up to you…isn’t it? So pay attention and see what those gut feelings, those tiny stirrings of intuition are trying to tell you…

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner

 

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