Resolutions: Should, Want and Guilt

How many people make resolutions at the beginning of the calendar year?  What percentage of them do we keep? What inspires and motivates us to make them?  And more, to maintain them?  And I like and use the term maintain, because we keep promises.. we maintain a lifestyle… What is a resolution? Is it a promise to ourselves?  Or is it, should it be, setting an intention for the path ahead?

I like that, new year’s intentions. setting intent. And what is the connotation of a resolution?  It seems people make “hard” I am going to quit smoking, or lose weight.  Instead, it seemed to me, that we should make lifestyle changes, and also – move toward a positive, rather than away from a negative. 🙂

For me, with Chronic Lyme.. health is always a sort of front burner issue – how can I be more healthy.. but even aside from that.. it seems people don’t make genuine lifestyle changes in their resolutions.  I know this, from having been an on-again/ off-again smoker growing up.  Personally, I am not an over-addictive personality – so quitting was never a really hard thing for me.  I would quit for several years, and something would spark me over into smoking again (offhand, I couldn’t say what those were, but probably life transitions that put me into a smoking culture. dunno.  Anyway, the last time I had quit, when I was about 26.. the insight/ understanding/ transition was;  I did not want to BE a smoker.  Which is subtly but powerfully different and distinct from:  I don’t want to smoke.  I had realised something from my very best friend, Nancy – when she made an off-hand joking comment.  She noted, she would do the laundry, and then have a cigarette.  She would make coffee.. and have a cigarette. It was her little reward system.  Anyway – from that, I realised the extent to which smoking was BOTH, a lifestyle, and a series of patterns and habits.. and I just started erasing those one by one.  I would get in the car, and note.. I am only going to the store- I don’t need a cigarette. I quickly got comfortable even for long drives, without a cigarette.

There is a distinction between doing and being.  I think many new year’s resolutions tend to end up about doing.. rather than about BEING.  And doing-ness.. should arise out of being-ness.  I hope that made sense.

Additionally – I try to stem things with a distinction between “should,” and “want.”  Should – usually infers that no, we do not WANT to do something, but will force, coerce or pretend this is good or fun…and that soon wears thin.  one of my ex’s (not that there is a long chain) live-ins was a smoker.. who finally admitted that he knew he should quit, he knew it was bad for him.. but when honestly assessing his habit and self, had to note that he liked smoking.  And that’s fine, he made an honest and conscious choice to not-quit, finally… and was okay with that.

Anyway – this year my resolutions stem from the idea that I would like to BE healthier. And the changes arose out of the question: What moves me toward that goal?

I think that many resolutions are anchored in doing-ness and “shoulds”…And so they become things we ultimately fail at, and beat ourselves up over. So I think it is beneficial to look honestly and deeply at “want.”… and what we will both enjoy, and be able to succeed at.  Otherwise we are simply setting ourselves up for failure, which brings guilt and serves no one.

So what are your experiences with resolutions and life changes? Have they worked? Are they spontaneous, or driven by a circumstance? What supports your new habits and helps integrate them into a regular practice?



I am an Education Specialist, Health Coach and Author. I work with aspects of the teachings I have learned from Andean shamanic and cosmology, to health, nutrition and education.  Everything is energy. Energy must flow. Like water, when it does not flow, it stagnates and is not healthy. These techniques help your life to flow. I have been initiated into many of the ancient lineages and learned ceremonies, rites of passage and healing techniques.  I have worked as a healer and done workshops and taught some of these aspects – passing the teachings on.

Author of:
Dancing in Your Bubble : ancient teaching, modern healing
Natural Support for Alzheimer’s
Getting a Handle on Happy : find and fix causes of stress and depression
The Naturally Smarter Kid : a parent’s guide to helping kids succeed in school and life
Cafe of the Hungry Ghosts : behind the veil of ordinary – a paranormal-ish fiction book