Iceberg, how much is below the surface?

Should we make a New Year’s Resolution?

According to Webster, a resolution is strong determination, a formal statement or a course of action decided upon. Each day I set an intention upon rising and usually again in my practice. And, like so many others, I evaluate where my life is at and how I might like it to be different. After working with some students to remove obstacles of 2013 and invite something new for 2014, I sat down to figure out what it is I wanted to do.

A friend had worked with a single word all year long in 2012.  After a short discussion and a look at the creator’s website, I decided to try something new, The Word of the Year, by Christine Kane. Choosing one word to focus on throughout the year was quite the challenge, but her worksheet made it almost painless. As I said in a previous post, intention is every thing. Once we put our thought out to the Universe, the process begins. Interestingly though, if we continually change that intention in our thoughts, our prayers, our meditations, and our conversations with others, the Universe doesn’t know which intention we are most serious about. Kane describes it as going into a restaurant and continually ordering different entrees in the same sitting.  So, my intention and focus for the next year is set.  I want to see how it goes before I share what my word is.  Regardless of the results, I will share eventually.

Why would we do a practice over and over or delve into one area deeply (like one word)? You can look to Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, 1.13, When we give effort to a practice [any practice], our mind will stay there and we will move towards our goal. In Yoga Sutra, 1.32, he tells us to dig one hole deeply. We can examine our experiences. I have practiced the same yoga practices for a period of time repeatedly over the last years. My teacher suggests sticking with a new practice for 90 days before making changes unless the practice is creating some sort of disturbance in our lives. I have benefited from discipline and one-pointed focus.

On the other hand, I have been tormented by a flood of choices and wracked by indecision; recalling that saying, that insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I have observed many people in my life who have chosen positive and negative practices to repeat over a period of time and they are moving towards their goals–long distant running, drug use, practicing a sport, working out, eating habits, etc. Results vary, yet most people move towards their goal.

In Psychology Today, Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. discussed the suffering connected to willpower and offered: Five Things You Can Do Instead of New Year’s Resolutions. In the article, her suggestions allow people to look at the past and move with awareness into the future. Various religions and 12-step programs have people do an inventory of their lives. We need to understand where we’ve been, to know where we want to go.

My question is should we make a resolution?  We are all moving towards something in our lives and the clearer we are as to where we want to go, the more likely we are going to get there.  When and to some extent how, we choose a resolution and evaluate our lives is not important, but that we do have a clear understanding of where we are and where we want to go is.