12.28.2012

30 Minutes - For Once Are You Gonna Not F Up Your New Year?

Hi. It's Joe.

I am making a new year's resolution this year. This is a bit of a dilemma for me, because this post is completely at cross purposes with that fact. But I am adhering to my advice below by having a totally delicious and rewarding resolution.

Most people who make new year's resolutions F it up. That is to say, they fail. No one knows why this is but I have a theory. It's not that people set the bar too high, because let's face it, most new year's resolutions are pretty obtainable. To tell you the truth, they are actually pretty mediocre. Some might even say lame. Very few people think big when it comes to new year's resolutions. But my theory of why people fail is this...

People set negative space resolutions. By that I mean most people set resolutions to undo something negative in their life, like smoking or being fat. This means they have to enter a negative mental space whenever they face their resolution, and frankly that's a deterrent to goal achievement. This is why people have a hard time sticking with their resolutions. It's pretty basic operant conditioning (Psychology 101). Every time you press the bar, you receive a negative mental stimulus like, "Hey, I am doing this shitty diet that is no fun at all...because I am fat." It's like a double whammy of negatives. You have to do something averse and the only reward is that you come face to face on a regular basis with the fact that you think you are a loser.

But you aren't a loser. You have just let the world convince you that you are. Why would you make a decision to do something adverse based on someone else's lowly opinion of you? That's just adding more negativity to the negativity stick you are beating yourself up with.

No. F those kinds of negative space resolutions. You can still change your lifestyle to quit smoking, exercise, and eat better. Just don't make it a new year's resolution. You should be doing that shit all the time, in small increments. It is called "self actualization" in the vernacular and it has no arbitrary 12 month cycle that guides it.

Resolutions don't cut it for the kinds of lifestyle changes you want to see. A resolution is just a statement of intent. It's useless. What you really need to improve yourself as a human being is a VISION, not a resolution. Figure out what kind of kickass awesome person you want to be, then BE THAT. Become the vision, immerse yourself in it until it is second nature, avoid the people and things that lead you away from your vision and seek out the people and things that lead you toward it.

It really is that simple. The hard part is thinking about your vision and who you want to be. Surprising as it sounds, very few people think about this stuff for themselves. They let other people and institutions do their thinking for them - friends, family, coworkers, mass media, schools, churches, etc. This state of existence usually transpires at an early age, when people give in to peer pressure. Then it is a slippery slope. But you can climb right back up the slope any time. Just decide to be awesome at being YOU.

So don't make any resolutions this coming new year that live in the reactionary negative space. If you make a resolution at all, make it a visionary and positive one. But you should have done that a long time ago. That's not an annual thing, that's a lifetime thing. You only live once. Don't blow it on negativity. Create the life you seek. It's hard work, but it's fun work, with rewards, and you have tons of time to do it.

That said, my new year's resolution for 2013 is to write a book. This is not a lifestyle change, but it is a positive space resolution, because I love to write. Also, the pursuit of this resolution helps me be a better person. I am less likely to surf the web or watch shows on Netflix (a couple of admissable vices) when I know I should be working on the book. In a way, the book here represents the vision and I can ask myself at any moment, am I moving toward the vision? If the answer is no, then why not? Perhaps I have other important priorities. But perhaps I am goofing off on FACEBOOK, and that won't cut it.

Write down your vision and every so often, do a self assessment of where you are with respect to it. Are you closer or farther away? What could you do differently to start moving in the right direction? It won't be easy and there may be obstacles in your path. You still might decide to give up, feeling like it is too hard.

I hope you don't give up. My new year's resolution in 2012 was to learn jazz piano. It's super hard. It is one of the biggest challenges I have ever set for myself. But I am inching closer to the vision. I will fully admit that at times, I didn't want to practice. Sometimes I needed a break from it. Sometimes I was just frustrated and avoiding the piano. Even now, sometimes it seems like even when I practice really hard for a long time, I don't get any better. But I always have the vision in my mind and I am always honest with myself about it. It is something I have to do in this life. Now, when I am not playing the piano or I have been too busy to practice for a while, I miss it and look forward to the next time I can play. I even get a little grumpy when my practice time gets cut short.

Go and be awesome.

Time.

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