Under the New Years Resolution

It’s a few days after New Years. I imagine that most of us are still on our resolutions but they might already be waning. I know I struggle with mine. And I was thinking about a couple of different things: 1) Why can it be so hard to do something that I really want? and 2) Why do I want that in the first place?

I’ll start with the second because that’s what really catalyzed this post. I’m finding that the more I stay conscious of the “why” that is under my “want”, the easier it is for me to achieve it. To do this, I’ve been using an exercise that sounds odd but is remarkably effective: I ask myself over and over the question “What would having that give me that is even deeper and more important?”*

For example, if I had a resolution of “lose 10 pounds” I’d say that, then ask myself the question. The answer could be “I’d feel better about how I looked.” Then I’d ask the question again. The next answer could be “I’d feel more confident.” Then I’d ask again, and so on, until I got to something that felt like it was the root reason – and I often uncover several possible ways to support that deeper desire. If I do those things all together, then I can feel even more successful at any one of the individual resolutions.

…and then we get to the first question, “Why can it be so hard to do something that I really want?” This makes me think of Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational (which I highly recommend). During his TED talk, he discusses this at length. My favorite moment is when he imagines setting the alarm for 6 a.m. with a very clear intention to wake up and go to the gym – then says “the person who hears the alarm go off in the morning is not the same person who set it the night before.”

I find it so powerful to look closely not only at what we want to achieve (New Years Resolutions) but also the subconscious mechanisms that drive both the desire and the reasons that we haven’t managed to achieve it until now.

One of my resolutions is to post more regularly this year, both to become a better resource for you all and to help build up a community that supports all of us. This is the start – and I’m glad I managed to achieve it despite the fact that I hit the snooze alarm a couple of times this morning…

* This is an exercise I learned during TCLT last year.


5 responses to “Under the New Years Resolution

  1. This is something I’ve been thinking about and trying to do more: burrowing deeper to the more authentic roots of “why”. It is so true that it makes the “how” much simpler and easier…

  2. The “5 Whys” was credited with why Toyota was so successful for so long, and is considered a method for getting at “root cause”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Whys

    A few systems use a similar method. Ahh, the wisdom of the 2YO 😉

  3. Oh that’s very nice! And yes, all hail the wisdom – the curiosity! – of the 2yo.
    Thanks, James!

  4. Cognitive therapy advises the same burrowing to get to the heart of, and hopefully eradicate, distorted beliefs. It’s always important to try to stay in touch with one’s core values I guess. Thanks for the reminder. Maybe I’ll bother with resolutions this year after all.

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