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Why Most People Don’t Keep New Year’s Resolutions

By now most people who made New Year’s resolutions are already at risk of breaking them.

Most of us know that New Year’s resolutions are problematic on many fronts, but few of us look beyond the obvious reasons for our failure to maintain our resolve.  We can all blame ourselves for not being disciplined enough, or blame “time” for being scarce, or blame the pressures of the real world for limiting our freedom to do what it is we say we want to do.

But what if none of these is the real issue?  What if all of these are just surface manifestations of a deeper cause?  At The Conscious Leadership Group we believe this to be the case.

What is the deepest cause of our failure to keep our resolve at any point during the year?
 
From our experience it is that we aren’t owning and facing our unconscious commitments.  Facing and owning unconscious commitments is one of the most powerful shift moves any person can make.

An unconscious commitment is by definition, unconscious.  The unconscious is by definition something we can’t see.  

So, how do we face what we cannot see?

To this question we offer a thought experiment.  What if our unconscious commitments show up in our behaviors?  What if we could see the unconscious by simply looking honestly and fiercely at the results of our lives? We’re not saying this is true.  Rather we’re just asking ourselves and you to play with this and see what happens.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Look at what you say you want.  For example, “I want to drink moderately, no more than two glasses of wine a day, 5 days a week.”  Own this as your conscious intention.  Say it out loud.
  2. Look at the actual results.  I’m averaging three glasses of wine a day, and twice a week I drink more than that.  Own this as your unconscious commitment.  Because the commitment is hidden in the unconscious, you can’t see it, so you have to play with believing your results and not your spoken intention.  Actually speak this unconscious commitment out loud and say it to a few trusted allies.  “I’m committed to drinking three glasses of wine most days and several days more than that.”
  3. Love and accept yourself for your commitment.  This is essential.  One of the reasons these commitments have been buried in the unconscious is that they weren’t loved and welcomed by us or someone else, and they went into hiding.  If you judge yourself for your unconscious commitment, the commitment will just go deeper into hiding and continue to control your life.
  4. Identify the “payoffs” you’re getting from living this unconscious commitment.  This is where the real gold is.  We’ve never met anyone who wasn’t getting a payoff from his or her unconscious commitment.  In most cases there are many payoffs.  We invite you to live in this question for a while, “What am I getting from keeping this going?”  This question must be asked from love and curiosity, not from self-criticism and blame.
  5. Consider a shift in perspective and behavior. From this place of self-awareness and self-acceptance ask yourself if you’re willing to get your deepest needs and wants met in ways that align more with your highest good and greatest purpose.

If you want to see this process in a fun form, check out this animation:

Facing, owning and shifting our unconscious commitments changes the entire game. It’s a master move of conscious leaders and a get-out-jail-FREE card for everyone.

Jim Dethmer

Jim Dethmer has been devoted to the practice of conscious leadership for 45 years. He has spoken to tens of thousands of people about how to lead and live from consciousness. He has coached Fortune 500 CEOs and their teams supporting them in transforming their lives and their cultures. He has worked with over 200 organizations led by entrepreneurs and professional managers across all industries. In addition to The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Jim also co-authored High Performing Investment Teams (Wiley, 2006). When Jim is not working with clients, you’ll often find him at his soul’s home in Northern Michigan playing golf with his wife Debbie and delighting in their six children and three grandchildren.

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