The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need: Starting Over

The Only New Year’s Resolution You’ll Ever Need: Starting Over

I used to love New Year’s resolutions. They hold such delicious promise for organization and accomplishment –the ultimate mind candy for control freaks like me! But alas, humans are fickle, cyclical beings by nature. We are driven by flow, by the alternating rhythms of contraction and expansion –powerful internal “seasons” of dark and light, energy and rest, celebration and abstinence – like our own personal weather systems. It’s just the way we roll. But we like to believe that if we can harness all our good intentions into ironclad Resolutions, this will activate some holiday magic. It will somehow keep us on a steady course of healthy behaviors the whole year through. This is a fake out. Ultimately resolutions can’t produce on their promise of all nice, no naughty. That seasonal driver in all of us stubbornly refuses to wear the shackles of consistency. 

We can fight it. We can try to swim in a straight line against the currents of our rhythmic nature, but eventually we will fail. Count on it. What is the longest time your resolutions have lasted? Once I got up to about eighteen months in a spectacular show of iron will, but to this day I’m still sliding around on that particular issue, trying to find a foothold again. If you’re determined to go for it anyway, this is the perfect time to make your healthy resolutions. You’ll be able to ride the natural “season” of calming, clearing, detoxing, etc. that ultimately follows several months of holiday partying. But it’s only going to get you so far –roughly to the time when your bodymind system is ready to “party” again. It might come embarrassingly quickly, like tonight, or maybe it will take a little longer. (I’ve noticed that fitness geeks have highly honed control panels that help them keep their resolutions for much longer than the average guy.)

But there is another, much more effective way. There is a technique that will ninja its way across all seasonal change, both internal and external. It can parkour itself across the weakest of wills and leap deep setbacks in a single bound.

Just start over.

If you’re about to stop reading because you think just starting over is too simplistic to be useful, please take twenty minutes of your time to see if you can actually do it first. Set a timer, close your eyes and keep your mind focused exclusively on your breath. I’ll tell you up front that you won’t be able to hold a consistent focus for twenty minutes. The Buddha himself will tell you that’s impossible. What IS possible is to start over when you lose your focus, to begin anew again and again and again. When your mind invariably wanders from the breath, just start over and bring your attention right back to it. You may have to do this seventy times a minute if you’ve got a lot on your mind, and that’s fine. Remember, the goal itself is an impossible one – the point is to practice starting over. If you try this and it’s easy for you the first time, I’m coming over to study at your feet!

What you’ll soon discover is that starting over is not so much an action as a mental position. Unlike its rigid fellow “resolution”, it’s not so much attached to outcomes as to process. It’s not mired by mental concepts like success and failure, but anchored in the ultimate reality of the present moment. The will and discipline involved lie not in achievement, but in a kind of stubborn insistence on staying in the game. Like anything juicy and powerful, it takes patience, determination and practice to get good at it.

The next time you find yourself losing ground with a personal goal, instead of getting so sidetracked by the inevitable “seasonal” elements of being human (crisis, celebration, anger, self- judgment, pain, failure and on and on) that you fall off the wagon or quit –just start over.

Woke up at the bottom of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s? Just put the spoon down and start over then and there. No fanfare, no self-flagellation –just recommit to the healthier eating style you have chosen for yourself and make your next meal a clean one.

After working with this practice for a long time, I am no longer as turned on by the promise of my sexy old boyfriend “Resolution”. Instead I’m falling for that plain and humble guy, “Just Start Over”. Though the new year looms closer and Resolution is knocking insistently at my door, again and again I turn my back on him to Just Start Over.

Want more? Check out The Clean Food Coach Facebook Page for tons of tips, tricks and recipes for prepping clean, whole foods in tasty, innovative and easy ways.


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