New Year’s Eve passed with all the usual pomp and circumstance and took our 2014 achievements and failures along with it. At midnight, a new year began and brought us a clean slate upon which we each can write our goals, plans and dreams for the next 12 months.
If you actually wrote down your 2015 resolutions, you should be congratulated. You took the first step toward creating change in your life this year. However, in just a few days you may find yourself entrenched in the same routines and schedules you experienced last year and your resolutions forgotten. In fact, you already may feel that change is impossible to achieve rather than being inevitable. As a result, you may give up on your New Year’s resolutions before you even get a chance to try and achieve them.
So, how can you make 2015 different from last year? How can you create the changes you failed to make last year? How do you keep from being one of the four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions but fail to keep them?
See Change as a Process
Approach New Year’s resolutions differently than in the past. Look at them in a different way. See them not as things that must happen immediately but as part of a process of change. Processes take time and often involve more than a simple change in behavior.
Indeed, personal change often requires both an internal process of change as well as an external one. To actually create change, accomplish goals or make our resolutions become realities, you must treat the process of creating change like growing a garden. Indeed, you must “plant seeds of change.”
Do this by looking inward at the issues that prevent you from creating change. This can be likened to preparing the soil and weeding the garden. Then set your intentions for change – plant the seed – and carefully tend the garden by taking actions – sometimes just small steps each day or week – to help nurture the change, to move closer to your goal. Help the plant – the change you desire – to develop deep roots, to grow strong and, eventually to bear fruit.
Plant Seeds of Change
Anyone can plant seeds of change and then watch them take root, grow and bear fruit. To do so, you need only take the following four steps:
- Cultivate the soil – This requires doing the inner work necessary to allow change to happen. In this step, you must look carefully and honestly at what stops you – now and in the past – from achieving your goals. Are you afraid? Does it feel too hard? You must explore these issues and find ways to move through them, thus preparing yourself to become a fertile growing space for the change you desire. This can involve finding compelling reasons to change, and developing a “burning desire” to change when you know you need to change but don’t necessarily want to change. In addition, at this stage you might want to find a life coach or counselor to help you move through your issues, or to use creative visualization techniques, affirmations or other human potential tools.
- Plant the seed – This step combines the inner work of step one with the outer work of actually doing something to begin creating the desired change. At this point, you plant the seed of change in the soil you have cultivated. You define what it is that you want to create and state your intention in a clear, concise, measurable, and attainable way. This intention becomes the seed you plant and nurture.
- Fertilize and water the seed – This step involves taking action to make the change occur. This represents the time to help that little seed grow strong roots that hold it up as it sprouts and begins growing strong in the world. You must nurture the seedling with fertilizer to make it strong and to increase the speed of its growth. Give it the essentials, like water, food and attention, to be sure its growth is not impeded or stopped. This means visualize the goal, taking time to focus on the intention and being grateful for each little success along the way. Part of the fertilizing process is doing one thing a day or a week to help move towards your goal. Make small changes, take baby steps while always staying focused on the end result you desire and doing something – anything – to help you move in its direction.
- Harvest the fruit – Over time, the love, care and attention given to the seed of change causes it to grown into a mature plant that bears tangible fruits. In this final step, it becomes possible to harvest those fruits – change, enjoy them and be grateful. Just as your seed has grown, through the process of planting it and caring for it, you also have grown. You are ready to allow the fruits of our inner and outer labor to become real – to actually experience the change – and to become a part of your life and of who you are at this moment.
Many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions because they don’t see change happening fast enough. If you let the change you desire grow, like a flower – indeed, if you help it grow by nurturing it and giving it your consistent attention, you will find you have accomplished much by December 31, 2015. By approaching New Year’s resolutions in this manner, change is allowed to happen naturally, organically, without force. You may not see your resolutions achieved over night using this process, but you will see them achieved. In addition, by actively engaging in the process of change by planting seeds in fertile ground, nurturing the growing plant and then consciously harvesting the mature, tangible fruits, you gain all the gems of knowledge and experience the process has to offer, which is just as important as reaching your goal.